A reminder to all: Puncture wounds are not always immediately obvious!

I have counseled people in the past when their dog is attacked by another dog to monitor closely for several days even if there are no obvious injuries, because puncture wounds under fur can be almost impossible to see.  Well, this week I had to follow my own advise.

Thursday evening after dark, my husband and I were walking Jack in the park. Someone decided to let her three dogs (I think it was three) go for a run. One of them came up to Jack. I didn't like how stiffly she was standing and within seconds, she nailed him. Jack squealed and bolted, my husband chased off the dog and her owner gathered her up and left us her contact info. I went over Jack very carefully and found nothing BUT his coat is so dense that it's hard to even get down to skin. Since it was dark when it happened I wasn't even sure where or if she'd bitten him.

I checked him again yesterday and found nothing, but this morning I was scratching his neck and felt a grimy hair mat. Closer examination found dried blood and an ugly-looking puncture. The wound was high on his neck behind his ear, and the huge amount of fur there made it invisible until started seeping.  Bless the vet for taking us in at literally one minute before closing time on their half-day Saturdays.   Jack was his usual "I hate restraint!" trembling self but they shaved the spot and determined the bite wound is all the way down to muscle. So 10 days of antibiotic and I need to keep a wound salve on it. Vet says it will most likely need surgery to clean and close the wound; it's so large the edges don't meet and so it may never heal on its own, though there is SOME chance it will. But he needs several days of antibiotic first. If you don't close it immediately before infections starts,  you can't close it until the infection is under control.

Still waiting to hear back from the other owner; we left a message quite a while ago. Keep Jack in your thoughts; he is almost ten and I hate the thought of surgery.   The would is seeping but there is not yet any swelling or lump and it doesn't seem very painful so hopefully we got the antibiotic started in time. 

And please, please, please if your dog goes stiff and still when it meets another dog (like this dog did) and it didn't play-bow first, that is a very very bad sign.  Happy confident dogs don't loom over other dogs like statues;  that is the sign of a tense dog who is likely to attack.  I have trained my dogs to look at me when I cheerfully say their names and this can stop a dog fight before it starts.   Jack squealed repeatedly like a puppy when she got him instead of trying to fight back and that likely kept things from escalating.  

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Awww, poor Jack. Hope he gets better fast.

How's Jack????
Oh my gosh. Why why why would someone let their dog of leash when 1) its aggressive and 2) it's not under complete voice control. I hate stories like that. How frightening. I hope Jack is recovering. Poor little guy.

Poor Jack and you, very scary!  Hopefully you caught it in time and surgery won't be needed to close the wound.  Surgery on a young dog is bad enough but on a senior it is even scarier.  I hope the other owner calls you back soon, they need to be responsible for your vet bills.

Even a small puncture wound can lead to things other than an bad infection.  When Max developed a huge fluid filled cyst on his side the vet said that can happen even at injection sites.  Since his was no where near an injection site the only thing we could come up with was that he managed to get a small puncture from one of the rose bushes...he was known to go behind one to get to the fence line.

Every owner needs to know their own dogs, whether they are dog friendly or at risk for aggression.  Katie is an alpha dog and I know she will not back down from an altercation so I watch her closely in any meeting of another dog.  She has never gotten into a fight except with Brady one time.  He tried to get away from her but she repeatedly went after him...this was shortly after Brady joined our family...and I had a hard time stopping her, every time I let go of her she went back after him.  That was definitely a dominance thing on her part but now that she has established her alpha place they are best buds.  This is not acceptable for your own dogs if you have more than one but definitely very wrong with strange dogs that their owners don't/won't/can't control.

Beth...how is Jack?

Jack is bright and sparkly and feeling good but the wound doesn't look great. It's still open and oozing. I have no way of determining if it's starting to close up from the inside (which is what you'd want to see) or not. The vet will have to determine that. We go back on Wednesday.

I still haven't heard back from the woman. I'll try her again tomorrow. Her dog should not be allowed loose, ever. This was a bad bite, not a warning nip. The tooth-hole is huge. I don't know where the opposing tooth mark is and the vet couldn't find it either. There should be more but maybe the other teeth hit his collar. The vet warned me to keep checking him because the other bite might not show up until later. She couldn't find one either, but again logic says there should not be ONE tooth hole.

I'm glad to hear he is still is happy self and is not feeling traumatized by the attack.  I will continue with good thoughts and prayers that his healing is good.  Puncture wounds take so long to close.

I do hope you hear from her.  I take you got her name and if you don't hear from her maybe send her a registered letter, that way she can't say she never got it.

Hi Beth, hoping you get good news today. Please don't let this lady off the hook. If you can send her a registered letter do so. You should call animal control to report this attack if she doesn't appear forthcoming about the vet bills. Unfortunately people rarely do the right thing. I hope in this case things go well. When we were attacked by a neighbor dog that finally connected after two attempts I was more fortunate because Izzy did not sustain any serious injuries. I later found out that there were other people in the neighborhood that had problems with the same dog and the owner failed to take precautions until I threatened to report him. Good luck!

The owner has asked me to send her the bills and seems to fully grasp that she can't let this dog loose any more.  She said she's never had a problem before but you know how that is.  She also thanked me repeatedly for being kind about it.  I was straightforward but didn't wig out on her which I think she might have been afraid of.

She lives in an outlying area and was at the park because she'd been here visiting with the dogs.

We had good news at the vet and the wound is closing in on its own. In fact, it's almost completely filled in now.  He is healing really fast.   

I've been alternating antibiotic salve with the wound dressing cream she gave us.  I also have been rinsing the area once a day with tepid slightly salty water, poured from a pitcher and NOT forcefully sprayed from a shower attachment or faucet.   It keeps the scab off so it can heal from the inside out.  This was information I found after a tip from a friend and not something the vet suggested, but I checked with her that it was ok when we were there.

The other thing I think that helped the healing was I cut back his regular food and replaced some of it with really high-protein meat-based treats.  His normal food has modest protein and I thought extra protein might help his body repair faster.  I know I crave protein when I'm sick or injured. 

I wasn't thrilled with how he reacted when he met a calm, friendly new dog at the vet though.  He was very hesitant and he's normally very confident with other dogs.  So after he heals we may need to get him out to do some socializing.  Frankly I'm a bit spooked myself now too.  

I'm so sorry, Jack is in our thoughts and prayers!!! Hope all goes well. I didn't realize Tucker was close in age to Jack.

I am so happy to hear he is healing so fast!  Any kind of deep wound has to heal from the inside out, the larger the wound the more important it is.  Learned that when my daughter had a large, deep cyst removed.  I had to pack it for close to 4 weeks to allow it to heal from the inside.  I am sorry to hear that this incident has caused him to be hesitant in meeting a new dog.  I would be cautious too.

I'm glad you finally had contact with the owner and she is stepping up and doing the right thing.  Good that she now understands she cannot let her dog loose any more.


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