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Two Little Bite Holes Caused All This Damage?

October 10, 2009

A small 14 pound Westie, name of Henry, lay shaking on my exam table. His gums were pale pink, almost white, his heart beat rapidly, his eyes glazed over with a faraway look. Blood dripped from two little 4 millimeter holes in his skin on his right side.

“What happened?”

“We have an invisible fence to keep Henry in, but the neighbor’s big dog ran right into our yard and bit Henry.”

“Bite wounds can sometimes be much more extensive than they appear. I’m concerned that Henry may have internal bleeding (which an ultrasound confirmed), and, see here? (I pressed gently on his right side.) Even though there’re only two little holes, I can feel a tear in his muscles under the skin.”

I took Henry to emergency surgery to stop his internal bleeding. Let me list the injuries that were absolutely invisible to the eye. And let me tell you now, it took me 5 hours to sew Henry together again.

1: muscles on his right side ripped open from behind his elbow to his hip

2: kidney fileted in half like a steak, with a giant blood clot in the middle (it’s a miracle he didn’t bleed to death)

3: 6 holes in his diaphragm, with collapsed lung lobes on the right side

4: shredded epaxial and hypaxial muscles (the muscles about and below your spinal cord)

What Henry did not have, or it could’ve been even worse:

1: no holes in his intestines or stomach
2: no broken flail ribs
3: no spinal cord injury or paralysis

I removed his destroyed kidney, sewed his diaphragm together, cleaned his insides, aligned his torn side muscles, and gave him a blood transfusion, antibiotics, and plenty of painkillers.

The next day his regular vet called in amazement. “I can’t believe he made it through all that, thank you!”

1 month later, Henry walked into my waiting room, tail wagging, tongue out in a big Westie smile. Apparently he had picked out a dozen assorted Dunkin Donuts for myself and his nurses. Although I think his parents helped…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2014 9:16 pm

    Always interesting and informative!


  1. How Can I Tell If My Cat has a Bite Wound? | VirtuaVet

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