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Hi, I'm new here and just need a place to vent. I want you to read the long post so you don't make the same mistakes I did with my dog. I also want some sympathy and an outside perspective from other dog lovers.
Conner, our loving and loyal 8(?) year old terrier mutt, who we adopted from the pound in 2003, has had a hell of a bad year. In September, we noticed a lump on his right neck; we took him to our regular vet and she did a fine needle aspirate. Results were inconclusive, but we weren't worried; it was likely just lipoma or fatty tissue.
Two weeks later, my wife is walking our dog at lunch time in the common area of our condo property. He's pooping and my wife is looking at him when, out of nowhere, a pit bull launches at my dog and before we know it, he's got Conner on his back and is biting into his neck. My wife and the pit owner frantically try to get the pit off my dog (incidentally she was leaving a voice mail for me at the time; the entire fight is caught on tape). Two minutes later they separate the pit from my dog. Conner has a fleshy bite wound on the left side of his neck. It's somewhat deep.
Back to the vet, who prescribes cephalexin, cleans the wound, and puts a tube in to drain it.
We watch closely and over the next 7-10 days, the wound heals rapidly. We are so grateful he has survived this incident. We feel we are out of the woods; we fly to Washington DC to visit some friends for 4 days.
Two days after we get back, his bite wound looks really good (the tube had been removed). Conner is at my parent's house resting when my mom reaches down and feels liquid on the other side of his neck, the place where we had detected the lipoma. She spreads his thick, coarse, black fur and finds a hole in his neck, leaking a slippery, cloudy fluid.
Back to the vet who is bewildered by the new wound. It's obviously related to the earlier lipoma -or is it perhaps related to the dog bite wound? She persuades us to cut into Conner to find out what it is; perhaps its foreign debris, a legacy of the dog bite wound or both.
We're concerned obviously, so we decide yeah- go ahead and cut into him and explore.
Our doc cuts into him and finds some necrotic tissue; not a whole lot, but some. She can't find the lymph node, however. His wound is a bit swollen but nothing really to worry about. She inserts a tube, sews him up, and we go home with cephalexin.
Five days later, I'm walking my dog off leash (I can't put a collar around him, but that's no excuse). He walks off down a little hill, poops, then sits on his haunches and begins scratching at his wound. I race down to him and stop him, but it's too late; he's scraped off the scab and it's all bloody. I race him to the Doctor's office, she flushes the wound, the tube falls out with two small holes at the top and bottom of it. She's concerned, so she prescribes Baytrill.
The next two weeks, our dog's sewn up wound gets increasingly inflamed and angry looking. Red pustules begin forming around the peripherary. The tissue around the wound is hard, solid. He's losing his appetite. He's in pain.
Back to the doc, who's now really concerned. This time she wants to take a punch biopsy of the tissue near the wound. My wife and I disagree- he's not healing well but we want to know what's causing all this. I reluctantly agree and we take the punch biopsy. In addition, she removes the stitches. The wound is massively inflamed. We put him on Baytrill + Metacam as an NSAID.
Finally, the doc recommends we bandage the wound when we take him home. Until that time, it had been open.
It all seems so clear now, looking back just 3 weeks, but it wasn't at the time. The wound wasn't anything special, it was just infected. By what, we didn't know at the time. So we increased his antibiotics. As of last week, he's been on Baytrill twice a day, doxycycline, and clavamox. And during this time, the wound has exploded. There is no skin left; it's all necrotic tissue with holes and patches of dark grey and brown material, full of liquid. It's terrifying and it's on my dog's neck.
So last week we elect to have our doc remove the necrotic tissue. The night before Thanksgiving, she and a team of docs put him under and cut out as much necrotic tissue as they can. They bandage him up and send him home with us. We're hopeful, she's hopeful, everyone feels pretty good. We don't know what the infection was (there was a whole week long diversion into fungal territory but a $200 titer test proved it wasn't) but we've cut it out.
By Friday our peek at his wound shows it's still very necrotic. We decide to take him to a specialist set of doctors in Glendale California. They're expensive but have a very good reputation.
They immediately want to CT scan the area, and start him on daily wet-dry bandage changes. They do some debridement right away and do a culture and blood test. We're very upset at this point, thinking it's the end, but by Monday, his wound is showing some improvement, and the cultures finally come back. It's MRSA- methicillin resistant staph infection.
Our new doc drops all the old antibiotics and puts Conner on something called amikicin. It only comes in syringes. We put him on that for the last three days and today was the next checkup.
The good news is the wound has stopped spreading. There is pink tissue in many places, but the necrotic mass hasn't been pulled away in the wet/dry bandage changes. They're pretty sure it's not cancer now, so they feel confident they can cut away the necrotic mass and continue wound care. But in the future they may need to do skin grafts to cover up and heal the wound. They want to do surgery tomorrow.
All told we've spent $5,000 over the last six weeks. It's been financial death by paper cuts - a test here, a $600 surgery there. We are facing $5,000 more.
Our dog's tiny pin-prick of an opening (which we still don't know the cause of) has turned into this (disturbing pic, not for the weak of heart) in the course of six weeks. My wife is a wreck, I'm a wreck, and we think this was all due to a secondary infection from the initial exploratory surgery. We've in effect hurt our beloved dog and damn near bankrupted ourselves at the same time. We don't know if we can afford the next surgery. We may just take him home and change his bandages ourselves and let nature take its course. That's better than drugging him up and cutting him.
Or we might try one last time.
1) At the first sign of mystery or anything that confuses your family vet, take your pet to a specialist
2) Mom was right: wounds should be bandaged, not left open
3) Buy pet insurance
4) Don't do exploratory surgery. Let things be unless it is absolutely necessary!
Wow - I'm so sorry. I hope everything turns out ok for your little guy. Thanks for posting such a well-written account. It's always helpful to reinforce the idea of getting a 2nd opinion and following our guts.
P.S. And welcome to DF. I'm sorry it's under such circumstances, but will keep good thoughts for a speedy recovery.
Also ask about using placentas to heal it. I know they do it with horses,especially with large wounds or degloving type wounds. It provides a strong wound covering much like skin would do in a graft. You can google "placentas to heal wounds".
Both of those options would be cheaper than skin grafts, I think. You could do the required treatment at home, with the equiade/placentas.
Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.
I'm sorry you had such a terrible experience. Those MRSA/MRSI cases are really tough and fortunately not very common.
I have to disagree with some of the "lessons learned" for anyone else that would read this. The specialist and insurance are personal preference, no problem with that. However I have to say that many, many animals' lives have been saved from doing an exploratory surgery (so they aren't all bad) and some wounds, when infected with the right bacteria, can be absolutely TERRIBLE (as in, deadly) if they are closed up and not left open.
wow. i've had MRSA before (got it from an ex-boyfriend who got it from work) and it was so painful. it can be deadly. i really wish you the best with your puppy. had no idea dogs could get it too. thank you for sharing.
I suggest you do a search on MRSA and Manuka honey. Worth a shot if all else fails and it's safe. Ask your vet if they are familiar with it.
You've got to wade through the sites selling it (use medicinal quality only), but there are legitimate hospital/university studies available if you dig. It always surprises me that it's not more widely known. I cured an ulcer on my shin a few years ago with it. I got the honey delivered overnight so I could start treatment right away. The ulcer had started to turn black/necrotic. The whole inflamed area was about 4 inches across. The first day the ulcer remained the same, the second day and thereafter it improved every day. I didn't use antibiotics at all as I had no health insurance at the time and couldn't afford what I was sure would turn into a hospital visit for IV's and decided to try the honey first.