Characteristics and management of gunshot wounds in dogs and cats: 84 cases (1986-1995)

Robert J. Fullington From the Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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Cynthia M. Otto From the Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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 DVM, PhD

Objective

To determine history, signalment, physical examination findings, treatment, complications, outcome, and prognostic indicators of dogs and cats treated for gunshot wounds at an urban veterinary referral hospital.

Design

Retrospective study.

Animals

82 dogs and 2 cats.

Results

Young (< 3 years old) sexually intact males were overrepresented. Of the 122 injuries, 52 were to limbs (23/52 were associated with fractures), 32 involved the thorax, 14 involved the abdomen, 14 involved the head, 6 involved the neck, and 4 involved the vertebral column. Seven animals were euthanatized because of financial concerns. Of the remaining 77, 11 died and 66 were discharged from the hospital.

Conservative treatment was adequate for animals with limb injuries not associated with a fracture. However, animals with evidence of peritoneal penetration required an exploratory laparotomy. Animals with thoracic injuries usually could be managed with conservative treatment or thoracocentesis. Only 1 animal underwent thoracotomy. Wound infection developed in 4 animals. Initial treatment of animals with gunshot wounds should include administration of antibiotics effective against gram-positive and -negative bacteria.

Clinical Implications

Most dogs with gunshot wounds that receive adequate treatment can be expected to survive. However, dogs with vertebral column or abdominal wounds may have a worse prognosis than dogs with thoracic or limb injuries. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;210:658–662

Objective

To determine history, signalment, physical examination findings, treatment, complications, outcome, and prognostic indicators of dogs and cats treated for gunshot wounds at an urban veterinary referral hospital.

Design

Retrospective study.

Animals

82 dogs and 2 cats.

Results

Young (< 3 years old) sexually intact males were overrepresented. Of the 122 injuries, 52 were to limbs (23/52 were associated with fractures), 32 involved the thorax, 14 involved the abdomen, 14 involved the head, 6 involved the neck, and 4 involved the vertebral column. Seven animals were euthanatized because of financial concerns. Of the remaining 77, 11 died and 66 were discharged from the hospital.

Conservative treatment was adequate for animals with limb injuries not associated with a fracture. However, animals with evidence of peritoneal penetration required an exploratory laparotomy. Animals with thoracic injuries usually could be managed with conservative treatment or thoracocentesis. Only 1 animal underwent thoracotomy. Wound infection developed in 4 animals. Initial treatment of animals with gunshot wounds should include administration of antibiotics effective against gram-positive and -negative bacteria.

Clinical Implications

Most dogs with gunshot wounds that receive adequate treatment can be expected to survive. However, dogs with vertebral column or abdominal wounds may have a worse prognosis than dogs with thoracic or limb injuries. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;210:658–662

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