I’ve had many dogs sustain minor puncture wounds while in my care. And I’ve been asked many times whether dogs need to be treated by a vet for that kind of injury. So, I thought I’d tackle that question from an RMF perspective.
A personal experience
Several years ago, my elderly dog was bitten by another dog and sustained a small puncture inside his mouth. There was very little blood, but the vet I took him to recommended sedating him so that he could cauterize (burn) the wound and “stop the bleeding”. Personally, I’ve never had the inside of my mouth burned. But I did have some tissue from my soft palate removed for a gum grafting procedure many years ago. It was very painful. So, for me to go along with burning the inside of my dog’s mouth, I’d have to be convinced there was some clear benefit. Since I’d seen very little blood in the hour since the injury, nor any symptoms of blood loss in my dog, I wasn’t convinced. I did not allow the treatment.
As it turned out, my dog was not even so bothered by the injury that he refused food. And since I’d done the right thing by him and refused all the unnecessary heroics, he had no drugs to eliminate from his system and no additional burn to heal from.
Every situation is different, obviously, but there are some general principles that are not widely known that should be kept in mind when a dog has a puncture wound.
Firstly, what kind of injuries are we talking about?
To be clear, I’m referring to simple small punctures with no involvement of vital organs.
Typically, the cause of a puncture wound is a bite from another dog. Most often this involves the face, ears or hind end. If the skin is torn such that it will leave a noticeable scar or create some other functional issue, you will probably want to have it stitched up.
But in healthy dogs — even very often in UNhealthy ones — small punctures heal easily with no treatment whatsoever.
The ‘experts’ beg to differ, as usual
That’s not what you will hear from the vet industry, however. Reading what they have to say about it leads one to the conclusion that there’s no breakage of the skin that is not life-threatening. For various reasons, the vet industry seems to get away with a lot more fear-generating exaggeration than their human health counterparts. It’s like the medical industry claiming that you should always go to the doctor when you cut your finger, regardless of how severe the injury.
Here’s a sample of what you’ll read. This is on VCAhospitals.com:
“Since the dog’s mouth is full of bacteria, any bite that does puncture the skin will introduce bacteria or other infectious organisms below the skin surface, where the bacteria can multiply and spread throughout the underlying tissues. Therefore, all bite wounds are considered to be contaminated and/or infected. Left untreated, the bacteria in an infected bite wound will cause a localized abscess or more generalized cellulitis (a tissue infection) that spreads through the surrounding area. In rare cases, a penetrating bite wound can cause septic arthritis (infection of the joint), osteomyelitis (infection of the bone), pyothorax (pus in the chest cavity) or septic peritonitis (pus in the abdominal cavity).”
It’s interesting how the word “infected” is used in this context. Usually, “infection” refers to actual inflammation. But here it seems to mean simply that foreign bacteria have made entre into the body. This ambiguous use of the word “infection” is convenient for the medical industry. Because it induces fear even when it means nothing except the mere presence of a microorganism. If that’s all it takes to produce “infection”, then the medical profession would not have had to invent their “susceptibility” excuse. It needs this to explain why the microbe can be present with no sign of the disease that it supposedly causes. Much like the word “cancer”, it appears “infection” can mean an entire range of scenarios, some really bad to others hardly worth talking about.
The veterinary industry also seems to believe that when bacteria get into the bloodstream via an open puncture, it’s a given that they will “multiply”. But is that so? The job of bacteria in nature is to eat dead things. They decompose and break down once-living organisms. This begs the question … What is in a dog’s bloodstream that might guarantee a food supply for bacteria? Bacteria are not attackers, after all, they are opportunists. Just like any other organism, they go where their food is. And if the food supply is great, the population will be as well.
The idea that bacteria have a job to do, and what that job is, has not entirely eluded medical “science”. They acknowledge it and readily concede it in certain contexts. Like, for example, what I later found out about cautery, the procedure the vet wanted to use on my dog. Besides stopping bleeding, this practice was once used routinely to “decrease infection”. But it was eventually found to actually increase “infection” by causing more tissue damage and providing a more hospitable environment for bacterial growth. More dead tissue = more bacteria.
So, in case we needed it, here we have confirmation from medicine: Bacteria need food (dead matter) on which to sustain themselves.
I wonder how many vets who cauterized wounds and then later had an “infected” mess to treat will realize that they helped cause it. Not very many, I’d venture.
The important, empowering principle behind this
The question about what in a dog’s bloodstream would be suitable food for bacteria is a vital one for dog owners to consider. Obviously, if there is no dead matter there, what are the little buggers going to “multiply” on?
I would contend, then, that keeping the bloodstream clean of uneliminated metabolic wastes (dead matter) should be job #1 of every dog owner. The veterinary industry is never going to mention this, because this is where all our power lies. It’s up to individual dog owners whether their dogs’ blood is saturated with uneliminated wastes or not. THIS is the primary factor that is going to determine whether wounds become “infected”. It’s ALL within our control.
This also produces a healthy dog. The root of ALL disease is the accumulation of waste in the body, including in the bloodstream. As we know, the largest contributor to waste in the body is what is eaten by the dog. That means DIET is the big determining factor. Yes, the one topic your vet does not want to discuss, except when s/he has a favored brand of kibble to recommend.
Now we know: Polluted blood is what causes “infection”, not bacteria
You may have heard about the high “infection” statistics that plague human hospitals. Hospitals are some of the most ‘sterile’ places on earth. One would think infection would almost never occur in them. The truth is, when “infection” strikes, it has nothing to do with ‘germs’ in the immediate environment. It has to do with polluted bloodstreams that provide abundant food for bacteria. Polluted bloodstreams are abundant in hospitals! Have you ever seen what they feed people in hospitals? And indeed what doctors themselves eat, typically?
People who eat poorly not only have plenty of food to feed bacteria floating around in their bloodstreams. They also have unhealthy tissues that don’t heal like they should. That’s the cause of the high “infection” stats in hospitals, in a nutshell. You will never hear this from a doctor (or a vet).
The lesson for dog owners
Feeding a diet that produces very little waste in the body is the best way to avoid “infection” of all kinds in your dog. That’s what RMF does.
If you’re already doing that, congratulations. If you’re not, please check out my book that explains how and why RMF is so effective at keeping dogs healthy.
A couple of questions might still occur to you, particularly if your dog is new to RMF and still ‘detoxing’. When the diet is improved, the body immediately begins mobilizing wastes from various locations in the body into the bloodstream for eventual elimination. This is ‘detox’, and it manifests in many ways. The relevant question is, “is this sufficient to complicate the healing of a small puncture wound?” Well, it’s impossible to make a blanket statement about that. But chances are, it won’t. There’s no reason to think there’s more waste in the bloodstream after dietary improvement than there was before. And the truth is that even unhealthy, kibble-fed dogs most often heal from small punctures without issue.
Should the wound be cleaned?
It’s only important to clean if there is obvious dirt and debris, and this should be done only with water. Soap or antiseptics should never be used. The aim with these products is to kill the bacteria that may have been introduced to the open wound. But they actually hamper the body’s ability to heal. The body needs to break its own cells down to the form that we call “bacteria” when there is healing to be done. Even water probably interferes to some degree, but it’s minor enough that the body can overcome it.
2 thoughts on “Do small punctures require treatment? ”
My dog was punctured (by a hog I think) and I didn’t notice for a day and a half because I had left early and got home late. (My husband was home that day and didn’t notice) I took her to the vet because it looked so big and pretty bad. I was surprised when he said it was healing nicely & I could choose to have him do “a second injury and stitch her up” or just let it heal on its own. He did prescribe pain med and antibiotics. She healed nicely (licked occasionally to keep clean) without antibiotics.
Yes it has to be the case that most animals do heal without intervention because that’s what they did for millions of years. What they didn’t do in all that time was pollute their bloodstreams with commercial dog food, meds and vaccines, which is the underlying cause when “infection” sets in after a small injury. For this reason, people who feed their dogs properly do not have to worry about small injuries becoming “complicated”. And it’s true that even most dogs who AREN’T properly fed will heal without complications, especially if they’re young. But it serves veterinary interests to have people thinking this is all a crap shoot that they have no control over. Your vet was absolutely correct when he characterized the stitching as a “second injury” because that’s exactly what it would have been, and mostly for the sake of aesthetics and remuneration. And of the two, I’d say the latter probably influences the decision more because most of the time these small wounds are completely covered with fur after they are healed. But the vets are taught in their schooling that any opening is an invitation to invaders, so they will stitch even though this truly constitutes a second injury. Since there are no invaders (whatever microorganisms appear are only there to do their job), the stitching actually has no functional necessity unless some normal function of the body is impeded by NOT stitching. Thank you for your comment.