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Penetrating Trauma and your Dog

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Penetrating trauma is when an object pierces the skin, enters the dog’s body, and creates an open wound; damaging the underlying tissue.


Some ways in which a dog can experience a penetrating trauma is through:

  • vehicle trauma – being hit and thrown into fencing, steel rods, star pickets

  • hunting accident – being shot by a rifle, gun or arrow

  • animal attack – being bitten by another dog, a cat or a feral animal

  • physical violence – for example a knife attack

  • playtime trauma – such as running into a sharp object, running with a stick

The object may become embedded in the dog’s body, if this occurs you must never attempt to remove it; if you do, you may cause further internal trauma.

Safety Precautions

Penetrating trauma can be a consequence to so many situations that it is difficult to set a simple set of safety precautions, however in line with the above causes mentioned, the following may assist in mitigating the risk of your dog being injured or fatally wounded by a penetrating trauma:

  1. Protected your dog from traffic or vehicles in general;

  2. Never take a domestic dog hunting with you or into known hunting locations;

  3. Learn to read the signs when new or strange animals are telling you or your dog to back off;

  4. Keep your dog on leash and always be aware of animals roaming near by especially when camping or bushwalking;

  5. Dogs carry sticks often at the end of the stick, teach them to pick them up from the middle or better still don’t allow playtime with sticks at all;

  6. Don’t throw sticks to your dog’s either - they may catch it awkwardly, run into it or it could hit them from a great height;

  7. Always check the surrounds of where your dog is playing to ensure there are no sharp objects; which can be found in disposed rubbish, piled up building materials, mechanical parts or tree branches piled up after recent winds and so forth.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weapon or object (e.g. arrow, stake) penetrated or penetrating your dog’s body, face, head, eyes or mouth

  • Your dog may show some or all of the following:

  • Infection at dog bite puncture site

  • Open chest wound with or without an embedded object

  • Severe bleeding (haemorrhage), venous or arterial especially from a ballistic injury

  • Breathing difficulties from injury to lungs

  • Shock


1. Undertake Primary Assessment DRSABC

  • Check for Dangers – a danger may be that the dog has become aggressive (warning: never put a muzzle on a dog who has breathing difficulties)

  • Is your dog responding to your voice or your touch? If not, your dog may be unconscious

  • Send for help; if there is someone else in the house get them to do things like get the first aid kit, help carry dog into house, prepare the car and call the Vet. They may also be able to help you restrain your dog

  • Check the airway for vomit in the mouth, or foreign object and remove if there is

  • Check the breathing (respirations) feel / watch the rise and fall of the chest – start artificial respiration if not breathing

  • Check circulation (pulse) – start CPR if no pulse

2. Stabilise object. Use donut bandage, or place two rolled bandages either side of object

and then use another rolled bandage to wrap and secure all in place.

NEVER pull out, or apply pressure to object

3. If object is too long, attempt to cut it down to manageable size if possible, without

applying pressure to object. Leave stabilisation in place;

4. Manage severe bleeding and open chest wounds as required;

5. Calm your dog; restrict pet’s movement; wrap in warm blanket; and

6. Get to vet.

If you have someone who can drive you:

🐾 If your dog stops breathing, begin artificial respiration on the way to the vet surgery.

🐾 If your dog’s heart stops beating, begin CPR on the way to the vet surgery.


Fursafe® Emergency First Aid Guide 2020

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