Because animals harbor so many bacteria in their mouths, pets bitten by other animals are starting with an infected wound from the get go. Infected puncture wounds have a tendency to swell up and become draining abscesses. The sooner antibiotics are started, the less swelling and discomfort and the sooner that your pet will be on the road to recovery.
When evaluating a patient that has suffered a bite wound, there are several things that your doctor will be considering and a number of things that will be discussed. Evaluations of Bite Wound patients depends a lot on the location, depth and severity of the wounds as well as the overall physical condition of the patient.
Chest: Bite wounds that involve the chest may cause broken ribs, loss of negative pressure to the chest (collapsed lung), punctured or bruised lungs, or bleeding into the chest cavity. Chest x-rays are often recommended to better evaluate for damage to this area.
Abdomen: Bites to or around the abdomen can result in numerous internal injuries. The abdomen houses many organs and systems. Injury to the spleen or liver can cause abdominal bleeding. Tears in the kidney, ureters, bladder or urethra could cause uroperitoneum (free urine in the abdominal cavity). Trauma to the intestines or stomach could result in ingesta in the abdomen which can cause a potentially fatal peritonitis (infection). To better evaluate the abdomen, your doctor may recommend an abdominal ultrasound and blood work.
Bones: Sometimes, in cases of large animals biting small animals, orthopedic injuries can occur that prevent normal limb use. In addition to loss of motor function, injuries of the spine could also affect neurologic function of the bladder and colon. Radiographs of these areas may be indicated to help better assess the extent of orthopedic injuries.
Throat: Bites to the throat can often damage major blood vessels, as well as the trachea (windpipe). Radiographs (x-rays) or bronchoscopy may be necessary to better evaluate such damage.
Ultimately, bite wound patients will need heavy pain medications or general anesthesia. Most veterinarians recommend blood work prior to anesthesia for routine spays and neuters, so discussion of blood work in a trauma patient should be expected.
IV catheters during anesthesia, help provide immediate access to the system if problems develop. Fluids help stabilize the blood pressure and help the body metabolize anesthetic drugs out of the system.
Antibiotics always play a major role in treating bite wounds and because bacteria of the mouth are so varied, it is common to use multiple antibiotics for broader spectrum coverage.
Surgical repair is the ultimate goal of most therapy plans. Often, when animals bite, they shake their victim as well. This produces large wounds and open pockets under the skin, not usually visible from the surface. Depending on the wound, rubber drains are often installed under the skin to help keep these pockets drained out, so that they heal from the inside, rather than scabbing over and producing large abscesses.
Most patients will go home with multiple forms of antibiotics and pain products, along with a time table plan for removal of drains and sutures/staples. Also, to help prevent licking wounds and chewing out sutures, a large cone collar (Elizabethan collar) is often used.
Hopefully this will help "take a bite out of " understanting what all goes on with bite wound patients.