Learn tricks to monitor a dog’s wound or incision for symptoms of infection. (Diego Jaimovich Photo)
Wondering, “Does my dog have an infected wound?” Or perhaps your dog has had a recent surgery and you’re wondering, “Is my dog’s incision infected?”
Whatever the case, The Sick Dog Blog has some great tips to help dog owners monitor a dog’s wound or incision for infection.
Is My Dog’s Incision Infected? – Photograph the Wound
Generally speaking, changes in a pet’s wound are gradual. Since a dog owner checks and cleans the dog’s wound several times a day, it can be difficult to tell if dog’s wound is healing since the process is gradual.
So here’s a tip: take digital photographs of the dog’s wound or incision once a day. Photograph the wound in the same light (i.e. the same spot in the same room) and ensure that the dog is standing or sitting in the same position for each photo.
Then, upload the photographs of the dog’s wound or incision into your computer and compare the photos. Sometimes, you won’t see a real difference when comparing photos from consecutive days. But if you compare a photo from day one and day four, you should see a noticeable difference (hopefully, for the better).
Over time, the dog’s wound should be looking better – less swelling, less redness, etc. If the dog’s wound is not healing or if the incision looks worse — not better — it’s time to return to the veterinary clinic for an exam and some antibiotics.
Symptoms of an Infected Wound or Incision in a Dog (or Other Pet)
Symptoms of an infected incision or wound in a dog include:
- Wound odor – A dog’s wound should never have an odor. Sometimes it’s just a vague, unpleasant odor. In more severe infections, the odor is sickenly sweet, similar to rotting meat (after all, it is, technically, rotting flesh).
- Green, yellow or white discharge – Clear or slightly bloody discharge is normal, especially during the first couple days following a dog’s surgery or injury
- Redness around the wound or incision – Some wound redness is normal; but after the first 24 hours, it shouldn’t get worse – it should slowly improve after day one
- Swelling around the dog’s incision or wound – Like redness, some swelling around a dog’s wound or incision is normal, but it should not get worse after the first 24 hours – it should gradually improve.
- Dog’s stitches separating or pulling apart – An infected incision will pull apart, creating a gap between the edges of the wound. The stitches may appear very taught and tight.
- Blackened skin around the wound or incision – Necrotic tissue (dead tissue) can be seen in severe wound infections. Don’t mistake dried blood/scabs for necrotic skin – apply a warm, wet washcloth to the wound or incision for about 10-15 minutes; if it’s dried blood/scab, it will wipe away after applying the warm, wet compress.
If you suspect that a dog’s wound or incision is infected, do not delay in getting the dog to the veterinary clinic. Infections do not go away on their own; they only get worse. If ignored, a dog’s infected incision or wound will require surgery to clean the wound and to remove the dead tissue.
In severe cases, if the dog’s infected wound is ignored, the infection will spread to the blood stream and the dog will eventually die from sepsis. A dog with sepsis will require lots of antibiotics and hospitalization (read: lots of money) if he is to survive. So when it comes to infections, don’t delay in getting a dog to the veterinary clinic.