Scratch, bite, wound, infection, bacteria, fever, lethargy, swelling, pocket, abscess, tender, injury, puncture, leukemia, immunodeficiency, drain
It is amazing that something as small as a scratch or even a single puncture wound from a bite could cause a body wide infection in your pet, but it can.
An abscess forms when the skin is damaged and bacteria is introduced under the skin. The body tries to kill the offending organisms by marshalling its white blood cells to the site. The ensuing battle results in the body walling off the infection. A pocket of infectious organisms, dead cellular components and liquid is formed. This liquid is called pus and the pocket is called an abscess.
As the abscess pocket grows it often releases toxic material into the blood stream. This results in the pet developing a fever, a feeling of lethargy and usually a tender swelling at the site of the injury.
An abscess may suddenly rupture with a gush of fetid material. This will look terrible but your pet usually feels better with this release of pressure. You might be tempted as a pet owner to then try and treat the wound at home. This is not in your pet's best interest. Abscesses will frequently heal in one spot only to appear in a nearby location. This happens when infectious material migrates under the skin forming a tract of diseased tissue in its wake. The optimal way to treat an abscess is by professional veterinary care. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet's overall condition. If it is a cat, he or she will recommend testing your cat for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses. Both of these fatal diseases are commonly transmitted by fight wounds.
Surgical correction may be needed. Special tubes called drains might be placed in the abscess pocket to allow the infectious material to escape or it may be necessary to remove diseased tissue from the area. Your pet could be hospitalized for several days for treatment. Your veterinarian will decide what is needed on a case by case basis and discuss treatment options with you.
How can you prevent your pet from suffering with an abscess? Keep your dogs on a leash when they are out for a walk. Keep your cats indoors. If you do have outside cats, get them vaccinated for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses. Neuter and spay your pets because they are less likely to roam and get into scuffles with other animals.
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