CPR First Aid

Learning About Gangrene in Dogs

Gangrene is a serious condition that significantly affects the tissues in the body. 

The first thing people think about with this condition is pirates. If people aren’t familiar, gangrene was the leading cause of amputation back in those days. This is likely why there are so many peg-legged pirates.

However, gangrene affects more than just pirates and people. It can even affect dogs. 

Let’s learn a little bit more about gangrene in dogs. 

A Refresher on What Gangrene Is

Gangrene is the death of tissue. It occurs when there is a lack of blood flow to an area of the body. This can happen because of infection, trauma, or other issues. 

Parts of the body that gangrene commonly affects are the toes, fingers, arms, and legs. This is because these are extremities and often have a diminished blood supply. 

"Gangrene: tissue death from blood flow loss due to infection, trauma, or other causes."

Can Dogs Get Gangrene?

The answer to this question is yes. Dogs can get gangrene just like people can. The main difference is that gangrene in dogs is not as common as it is in people. It is a rare condition that is no less serious.

Common Causes

Open Wounds and Infections

The most common cause of gangrene in dogs is an open wound that becomes infected. This can happen if your dog gets into a fight with another animal or is injured in some other way that is not readily apparent.

The infection can cause gangrene to develop. This is because the infection can spread and block the blood flow to an area of the body. 

One problem is that dogs often try to hide their wounds. This is why it is important to know when your dog has a wound.

Untreated Injuries Due to Fur

As just mentioned, open wounds that develop infections are the leading cause of gangrene in our furry friends. The question now is, why isn’t the injury treated, much less seen?

This is all because of the dog’s fur. Many dogs have a lot of furs that cover most of their body parts. It is only when we look under this fur that we see whether there are any problems on certain parts.

Thus, while it is not a direct cause, the fur of a dog can easily hide any wounds, leading to missed treatment and infection.

Diabetes

While most causes of gangrene come from varying types of wounds, it is also possible for internal conditions to contribute to it.

Diabetes for instance is a factor that puts both humans and dogs at risk. This is because diabetes narrows blood vessels, hampering blood flow throughout the body.

The Difference Between Gangrene in Dogs and Humans

For starters, gangrene between dogs and humans share many things. These include things like symptoms and affected areas.

On the topic of affected areas, when humans experience gangrene it is usually in the exterior of certain body parts. These include things like fingers, toes, and fingers.

In dogs, this is mostly true as well. Dogs with gangrene can have their arms, legs, and paws affected. It takes a step further though, as it also affects their ears and tails.

The biggest difference though is that dogs can get gangrene internally. It is possible for a dog to contract gangrene on a certain organ. This is considered to be more dangerous as it can affect essential organs in the body.

Symptoms of Dogs With Gangrene Experience

The fortunate thing is that there are many symptoms that manifest in humans and dogs that are indicative of gangrene. These are good because people can put these symptoms together and tell whether their pets are in danger.

However, they shouldn’t be totally depended upon as detection of these symptoms may indicate that it is too late. The ramifications of gangrene could be fatal.

Let’s check out several symptoms.

Many symptoms in humans and dogs indicate gangrene. Helpful for pet safety, but not foolproof.

Swelling

Swelling is the most common symptom of gangrene. This is because tissue death leads to an increase in fluid in the area. The extra fluid leads to swelling.

Fever

A fever can also be a symptom of gangrene. This is because the infection that gangrene often causes will cause the body to fight it off. As we know, when our bodies fight off gangrene, it leads to fevers.

Discolouration

The discolouration of the skin is another tell-tale sign that people should look out for. This is because tissue death leads to a change in the colour of the skin. The skin will often take on a greenish hue.

Loss of Feeling in a Body Part

Gangrene can also cause a loss of feeling in an affected area. This is because when gangrene takes root in a certain body part, it will start to kill the nerves in the area. The loss of feeling can often be partial or complete.

Discharge

Last but not least comes discharge that is often accompanied by a sickly but sweet smell. This is because the infection can cause pus or other fluids to leak from the wound. 

The Treatment

The treatment of gangrene is important as it can save a person or dog’s life. It is also something that should be done as soon as gangrene is diagnosed. This is because gangrene will only get worse over time. The longer it goes untreated, the more damage it will do and the harder it will be to treat.

Treating gangrene promptly saves lives—crucial for humans or pets. Delay worsens the condition.

Removal of Affected Tissue

One of the most common treatments for gangrene is the removal of the affected tissue. This is much the same with dogs with gangrene. 

This is because when gangrene takes hold, it will start to kill the tissue in the area. The removal of this tissue is often done through surgery. The surgeon will go in and cut away the dead and infected tissue. This helps to prevent the spread of gangrene.

Controlling Infections With Antibiotics

Another common treatment for gangrene is the use of antibiotics. This is because as mentioned before, gangrene often leads to infection. The antibiotics help to control this infection. They also help to prevent the spread of gangrene.

Amputation

In some cases, amputation may be necessary. This is usually the case when gangrene has spread too far and has caused too much damage. Amputation is often seen as a last resort but it may be necessary to save a person or dog’s life.

Prevention

The best way to deal with gangrene is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This can be done by keeping wounds clean and covered. It is also important to see a doctor or veterinarian as soon as possible if an injury occurs. The sooner gangrene is caught, the easier it is to treat.

At the same time, vigilance is also key. The fact that wounds in dogs lay unsuspecting under their fur means owners need to constantly check for any wounds and treat the open wounds immediately.

Moments That Last a Lifetime

Pets are precious companions. When cared for correctly, it is capable of cultivating special moments that will stay for a lifetime. So, if you want to spare yourself from getting tissues for your tears, then you need to care for the tissues on the various body parts of your dog. Gangrene is a very serious condition with potentially fatal consequences.

Knowing first aid can better help you prevent gangrene in dogs. It gives you the skills to handle wounds, as well as a protective mindset.

Learn more about first aid with CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.

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