Saroj Rai, TK Dutta, A Mandal, R Behera, A Muhammad and M Karunakaran

ICAR- National Dairy Research Institute, Eastern Regional Station- Kalyani, West Bengal

Wound is an injury, usually involving division of tissue or rupture of the integument or mucous membrane, due to external violence or some mechanical agency rather than disease. Wounds in domestic animals maybe encountered due to injury while fighting, animal /insect bites, injury due to barbed wire while grazing, accidents and blows. The problems associated with a wound arise due to an infection as toxins are released by the bacteria at the site leading to abscess, necrosis and slough etc. Microorganisms get into the wound in many ways. They enter through direct contact to infective surface, surgical instruments, air and sometimes self contamination by itching or biting the site. The most common causative organisms associated with wound infections include Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenus, Pseudomonas and Enterococci etc. Therefore, timely and correct dressing of the wound is required for complete healing process as follows;

Open Wounds: An open wound in which the injured tissues are exposed to the air. Some common examples are deep cuts, punctured wound, abrasions, gunshot wound, penetration wound etc.Stop the bleeding on a deep cut this can be done by applying ice packs which help to constrict the blood vessels. After the bleeding stops, the most important step in open wound treatment is irrigation. Thoroughly flush the wound with dilute disinfectant, saline solution or even water. The fluid flushes out contamination and bacteria, and provides gentle pressure on the macerated tissues to stimulate the healing process. Topical antibiotics maybe applied if needed. Depending upon the nature of wound, it is closed by bandages, sutures and staples.

Abscesses: An abscess is a pocket of infection that usually occurs when bacteria is injected through the skin by a contaminated objects. Even so, infection can spread into surrounding tissues and the bloodstream, making the animal sick. Typically, an abscess may not appear until three to seven days after the initial injury. At the first sign of swelling, carefully inspect the area for a small wound. Clip some fur from the site and scrub with a moist cloth. The wound will open up so that the pus drains out. Apply pressure to drain the wound, but be gentle or the pus could be forced out of the abscess and back into the bloodstream. If rubbing does not open the abscess, it should be lanced by your veterinarian. Apply antibiotics as soon as the abscess is detected. After the initial draining, apply hot packs to the wound two to three times a day to encourage continuous drainage. Some dilute antibacterial disinfectant like iodine (Betadine) can also be infused into the abscess by the veterinarian. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for wound flushing — they are painful, irritating and ineffective. Abscess on the Sole- Hoofed animals like horses and cattle commonly get abscesses on the soles of their feet when they step on sharp objects that penetrate the tissues. The foot should be soaked in a dilute disinfecting foot bath twice a day for four or five days. If you have access to antibiotics, those can be helpful as well. In the case of a serious penetrating wound to the foot involving a nail or long object, call your veterinarian immediately. Infections deep in the foot's tissues can cause permanent lameness if not treated promptly.

Teat Lacerations: Teat lacerations in dairy cows can have serious consequences leading to permanent loss of the udder for milking. Usually, an abnormal drainage route for milk (called a fistula) will form, and normal teat sphincter function will cease. Mastitis or inflammation of the udder will occur, leading to irreversible scarring. Superficial cuts can be cleaned and treated with topical antibiotic ointments and a bandage. Deeper cuts must be carefully sutured and treated a veterinarian. The pressure of hand-milking on an injured teat will usually disrupt a suture line and prevent healing. In addition to a teat tube, milking machines can be used immediately to drain the teat without affecting the suture line. In any case, antibiotics should be infused daily into the teat to prevent mastitis. After milking, the milk should be checked for mastitis with the aid of a California Mastitis Test.

Animal Bites/ injury due to fighting: The wound area is carefully washed with clean water till the bleeding stops. Ice packs maybe applied in severe cases. In case of minor injury leave the wound as such as many of the antiseptics interfere with the healing process. But in major wound close the wound with thin line of antiseptics and cover loosely with a clean gauge so that dust particle may not enter the wound. Refer a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Closed wound: In closed wound no blood escapes from the body although there maybe bleeding under the skin also known as bruises. It involves the soft tissues like the tendons, muscles and ligaments and the hard tissues like the bone. Most of the closed wounds occur as a result of forceful blow that damages the soft tissue layers beneath the skin causing internal bleeding or blood and other fluids to seep into the surrounding tissues, causing the area to swell and change colour. The main goal of the treatment is to control pain and keep the bleeding and inflammation to minimum. Sometimes tetanus injections with a painkiller are also be helpful. Infact such would should be looked after by a veterinarian immediately.

In any type of wound condition, good nursing care is required. Keep the animal away from licking, chewing or scratching at the wounds, sutures, bandages, or drains. The bandages should be clean and dry and changed at regular intervals. If the bandages get wet, or an odour refer the veterinarian for evaluation. Place a thin film of an antibiotic ointment around the edges of the wound once or twice daily. Bandages may be left on for as little as 24 hours or up to several weeks, depending on the nature of the wound. Bandage changes are at least once a day to start; longer intervals between changes may be possible later in the healing process.

Suggested Reading

  1. William C. Noble and David H. Lloyd. 2008. Pathogenesis and management of wound infections in domestic animals.  Veterinary Dermatology, 8(4):243 - 248 
  2. Principals and Practices of Animal Health and Hygiene. J Prasad and Lt. Neeraj, 2004. Kalyani Publishers. India