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PET TALK: Cuts, bumps and bites

Wednesday 2 March 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Pet Talk


When it comes to injuries, the noise and blood only tell some of the story, writes Dr Michael Baer.

Nobody ever worked out exactly what had happened.  The result was obvious, nobody had any trouble working that out. But how it had happened, nobody had a clue.  She was in the garden and despite several search parties nobody found a sharp object.  The wound was neat, almost surgical, running straight across the top of Zika’s head, just behind her eyes. When it reached the right side, it turned sharply and ran along the side of her head to her ear.  The skin had lifted off, and the blood was flowing freely.

It was a similar story for Milly.  Nobody ever knew how the bump happened, but her broken ribs were proof that it had.  Her laboured breathing and her pain told the same story.  But she didn’t have any mud on her, nor any of the cuts and scrapes, and grazes that getting run over often causes. 

She made plenty of noise, just to make sure everyone realised she was injured.

Jo heard what happened to Simba, but she didn’t see it. 

Not that she could have done anything. 

Simba tried to join Blackie at his food bowl, uninvited.  The old dog was offended and expressed his displeasure by barking then picking up the kitten in his mouth and throwing her away.  Literally.  Then he went back to eating.  Simba started to cry, loudly, then went quiet.

Of the three incidents, one was serious and nearly fatal, one was serious but not likely to be fatal, and one was superficial but impressive. All needed treatment as soon as possible.  All were treated as soon as possible.

Zika’s cut was only in her skin, there was no further damage.  She was stitched up, and now has a scar that can barely be noticed.  Head cuts in dogs and people always bleed a lot, and usually heal well.  Because of the blood they are easy to see, and hard to ignore.

Milly was undoubtedly in serious pain.  Broken ribs hurt.  Pain from broken bones increases if the bone is not kept still, which is impossible with ribs, they need to move so we can breathe. 

But as long as the lungs are ok, broken ribs can heal.  The pain needs to be treated seriously, it can be debilitating, and Milly’s whimpering and reluctance to move made it quite clear just how sore she was. 

Simba was quiet, and subdued, but outwardly he was fine.  You could not see his injury, but it was life threatening. 

When Simba was examined he barely reacted, but something felt wrong and x-rays confirmed it. 

The muscle between his chest and abdomen, his diaphragm, was torn and his liver and stomach were crushing his lungs. 

Simba needed surgery, and the surgery was dangerous. 

The surgery to stitch the muscle can lead to complications as the lungs are re-inflated.  Simba was fine, fortunately. 

On the surface, at first sight, there was no reason to worry about Simba. 

He seemed a little quiet, he seemed a little sore, but not too bad. 

He didn’t have the shocking blood flow that made Zika’s injury so obvious. 

He didn’t make the noise and attract the attention the way Milly did.

But his was the most serious injury.  All three of the pets needed vet care and fortunately all received it. 

It might have been easy to ignore Simba, there was no blood and no noise but Simba was in shock and was lucky that his owner reacted. 

When it comes to injuries you can’t always judge a book by its cover.