Dog Manual

Injuries, Dislocations, Fractures, Burns

Common sense should be used in regard to injuries. If it is nothing more than a simple scratch, then the application of any household antiseptic is all that is required. A simple bruise can simply be ignored. A slight burn will be healed by daily applications of vaseline. More extensive burns should also be covered with vaseline and then given veterinary attention. In his evaluation of an injury, the owner should be guided by the same sort of reasoning that he would use if he himself were injured. If the injury is obviously minor, the same sort of household treatment that would be used with a human being will work just as well with the dog. If the injury is obviously severe, only the simplest first-aid measures can be applied while waiting for the veterinarian to take over. If there is the slightest doubt as to the extent or significance of an injury, a veterinarian should make an examination at the earliest possible moment.

The most common serious injuries involve hemorrhage, bone dislocations or fractures and internal injuries. Where there is serious external hemorrhage, and a veterinarian is not immediately available, some effort must be made to stop it. This can be done by wrapping some gauze around the wound, covering this with a liberal amount of absorbent cotton, and bandaging snugly. Then wrap the animal in a warm blanket and contact a veterinarian.

The veterinarian will not only definitely stop the hemorrhage, but will take measures to counteract shock and to replace, if necessary, the body fluids that have been lost. In any injury, shock is probably the most important concern, because collapse due to shock is often a more common cause of death in these cases than the injury itself. Actual treatment is rather elusive and uncertain. Warmth and quiet are very necessary measures following injury. Sometimes these help more than the actual shock medications themselves.

Any sort of lameness is also very significant, and demands immediate veterinary attention. If the lameness happens to be due to a dislocation, the dislocated bone must be put back in place as quickly as possible for too much of a delay may make it altogether impossible to reduce the dislocation. To make this explicit it may be said that to reduce a dislocation twenty-jour hours old is often very difficult, and to reduce one forty-eight hours old by ordinary manipulative means is often impossible. This stems from the fact that the area of the bone where the dislocation has taken place commonly becomes so inflamed that the bone and the area around it become swollen, thereby making it mechanically almost impossible to manipulate the bone back into place. And it seems that even when the swelling is reduced, which may take a day or two, reduction of the dislocation is still often impossible. This does not mean that the animal is rendered permanently lame. Commonly a "false joint," develops, and in time the animal may walk without any apparent impediment. On other occasions there is merely a shortening of the affected limb without any drastic lameness. Only under the worst possible circumstances might there be permanent lameness. Of course there can also be dislocations of bones other than those of the limbs. In a general way, the same information given in regard to limbs also applies here. All dislocations are strictly emergency veterinary problems.

Lameness may also, of course, be due to the fracture of a bone. Broken legs may be especially obvious and one often does not have to be a veterinarian to determine them. The reduction of broken bones is, of course, a veterinary problem, but it will assist the veterinarian greatly if he has the opportunity to do his job at the earliest possible moment. It may be stated that, by and large, the setting of broken bones is not generally a difficult procedure, and, in most cases, the results are very gratifying. Even the most mutilated limbs are often amenable to the talents of the veterinarian. So expert have veterinarians been in this field, that they have made substantial contributions to human medicine. The so-called Stader Splint, that is so commonly used in complex fractures in hospitals, was developed by, and named after, a veterinarian.

Lameness can also be caused by the rupture of ligaments or tendons. It is sufficient to state that these must be given immediate treatment, otherwise treatment is of no avail and the animal stands a chance of becoming permanently lame because the owner was too lethargic to get around to submitting the animal to proper treatment on time.

Internal injuries are much more subtle and usually more dangerous than the above-mentioned conditions. They are strictly a problem for the veterinarian. The owner can rest assured that whenever any significant injury occurs in his pet, the veterinarian always takes into account the possibility of internal injury.