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Q&A: Why Is There a Hole in My Dog's Belly? How Do I Close It?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Holes next to a suture in a dog's abdomen take time to heal. If the abdominal cavity is open, a second surgery will likely be required.

Holes next to a suture in a dog's abdomen take time to heal. If the abdominal cavity is open, a second surgery will likely be required.

How Can I Help Close the Holes in My Dog's Stomach After Surgery?

"My furry friend is 11 years old and was operated on for pyometra just five days ago. Now she has developed two gaping holes right beside the suture line on her abdomen, and they are filled with pus and blood and increasing in size.

My vet has suggested a debridement surgery again, but her liver enzymes are already high. Betadine and Nebasulf are being used for dressing, and she is being given cephalexin tabs.

How can we treat the holes which have formed after the surgery and are increasing in size?" —Shwetadri

Dehiscence in Dogs

When a surgical wound opens like that, it is called dehiscence. In some cases, a veterinarian can go in and close the wound with a type of mesh so that the skin is not pulled so tight that it forms those holes again. In other cases, the wound is left open and eventually closes with scar tissue.

Platelet-Rich Plasma for Wound Healing

In your dog's case, a second surgery is probably not the best way to go. The first thing I am concerned about is why it happened. If your dog has chronic liver disease, she is producing less albumin, which is a protein necessary to close her wounds. Sometimes it is useful to close a wound with mesh and platelet-rich plasma, as plasma provides the albumin that your dog may be lacking. (1)

Secondary Intention Wound Healing

It is impossible to tell from photos, but it does not look like the abdomen is open, only the skin. With skin wounds that are just going to open up again after surgery, the best way to manage them is by allowing them to close by secondary intention. It does take longer, and you will need to keep the wound bandaged so that it will stay moist, but at least she will not need to go through anesthesia again.

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Peritonitis in Dogs

If the wound is open so much that the abdominal cavity is open, your dog might develop peritonitis, a bacterial infection of the abdomen. Keep an eye out for signs of peritonitis.

Physicians leave the abdomen open after gunshot wounds or stabbings, but those people have to be hospitalized, and it is not possible to keep abdominal wounds that clean in dogs.

If the wound is open, your dog will need to have her abdomen opened back up and re-sutured, even though the anesthesia might be hard on her.

I am sorry to hear she is going through this. No matter which way you decide to treat her, it is going to take a while to heal.

Update—Wound Is Healing!

2 weeks later and with twice-a-day cleaning, the wound is beginning to heal by second intention.

2 weeks later and with twice-a-day cleaning, the wound is beginning to heal by second intention.

Source

(1) Berni P, Leonardi F, Conti V, Ramoni R, Grolli S, Mattioli G. Case Report: A Novel Ventilated Thermoplastic Mesh Bandage for Post-operative Management of Large Soft Tissue Defects: A Case Series of Three Dogs Treated With Autologous Platelet Concentrates. Front Vet Sci. 2021 Sep 1;8:704567. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8440817/

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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