Bite Wounds: Tip of the Iceberg


Dogs have powerful jaws, and bite wounds inflicted by dogs typically cause severe crushing injury in addition to punctures and lacerations. Once a dog bites and latches on, this is generally followed by shaking and pulling resulting in avulsion of the skin from its underlying attachments and tearing of the subcutaneous tissue, muscle, vasculature, and underlying structures. Because skin is more elastic and moveable it could still appear intact despite severe underlying tissue trauma. This is why, what you see from a bite wound is regarded to as “tip of the iceberg”.

Wound contamination occurs secondary to bacteria from the biter’s mouth, hair and debris from the victim’s skin being “injected” into the underlying tissue. Majority of bite wounds in our animal patient’s generally become infected, and the infections are usually due several different types of bacteria species present.

If your pet has suffered a bite wound injury we recommend seeking veterinary attention immediately. For the above reason’s, medical recommendations routinely involve, exploring the wound under general anesthesia to remove any penetrating debris and thoroughly clean the wound of any offending organisms. Despite even the most appropriate care, bite wounds have the potential to require multiple surgeries and still become infected due to the numerous bacteria introduced and the “crushing” injury from the bite pressure which could damage blood supply taking days before evident.

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