Objective—To describe the signalment, wound characteristics, and treatment of gunshot injuries in cats and dogs in urban and rural environments, and to evaluate the utility of the animal trauma triage (ATT) score as an early predictor of survival to discharge from the hospital.
Design—Retrospective case series.
Animals—29 dogs and 8 cats.
Procedures—Medical records of cats and dogs evaluated for gunshot wounds from 2003 and 2008 at a private urban referral practice in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and an urban veterinary teaching hospital in Ames, Iowa, were reviewed. Information collected included signalment, chief reason for evaluation, circumstance of the injury, general physical examination findings, wound characteristics, treatments provided, cost of care, survival to discharge from the hospital (yes vs no), and duration of hospital stay. For each animal, ATT scores were calculated and evaluated as a prognostic tool.
Results—37 animals met study inclusion criteria. Animals with higher ATT scores had a greater likelihood of poor outcome following gunshot injury. Animals with higher ATT scores, classified as low (< 4.5) or high (> 4.5), were found to have a longer duration of stay, classified as zero (0 days), short (1 to 3 days), or long (> 3 days). Young male dogs generally considered working breeds were overrepresented (29/37 [78.4%]). A preference for low-velocity, low-kinetic-energy firearms was identified (19/37 [52%]). The most numerous wounds were those inflicted to the limbs (12/37 [32.4%]), during low-visibility hours or hunting excursions. Calculated ATT scores on admission were higher in animals requiring blood products or surgical procedures and in nonsurvivors.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that regional preferences in breed ownership and firearm choice are responsible for variation in gunshot injury characteristics and management in animals sustaining injuries in rural and urban settings in Iowa. In cats and dogs, calculation of an ATT score may provide a useful predictor of the need for surgery or blood products, duration of stay, and likelihood of survival to discharge from the hospital.