Want to see a veterinarian cringe? Tell them a small dog or cat is coming that was attacked by a larger dog. Working at the emergency clinic, I see this all too often. A call comes in that a small dog or cat was picked up and shaken by a larger dog. But often the owners will say, they just have a small cut. What we really know is what lays beneath that small cut is critical. Any dog fight/attack can be serious but unfortunately, when there is a size discrepancy is when we worry the most.
What may seem like minor wounds on the surface, most often have severe damage underneath. And often life threatening damage. When a larger dog grabs a cat or small dog, they most often grab them over the top. And often grabbing the head, neck or across the back. It is not uncommon for them to actually pick the pet up and shake them. So what are some of the things we see from this?
** Many of these little guys will present in shock due to the trauma, pain, and possibly blood loss. It is important to stabilize them as soon as possible.
**Severe injuries to the eyes when the smaller animals are grabbed across the top of the skull. Often the eyes are displaced from the socket or have damage to the eye itself. It is not uncommon for the damaged eye to have to be removed later due the severity of the injuries.
**Punctures that go into the thoracic cavity or abdominal cavity. These are often our biggest fear. The pets will present with small punctures that do not appear severe, but when we explore them we often find the wounds have torn through muscle layers and entered the body cavities. Then we start to worry about injuries to the lungs, abdominal organs, and more severe infection.
*Crushing injuries to the muscles/skin/other soft tissues. The strength of a larger dogs jaw can cause significant trauma to the smaller pet. Often the damage to the tissue worsens over the next 1-2 weeks, requiring multiple surgeries and more aggressive therapy.
**Damage to the spine is not uncommon since when they are grabbed over the top of the next and back, these areas are crushed. Also if they are shaken this can cause damage to the bones and spinal cord.
We hope you never have to deal with this, but if it happens, please have your smaller pet check out by your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian right away!
Boo Donoho, DVM
Southern Animal Hospital