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In this lesson, we're going to follow up the last one on lameness care and focus on severe lameness. We'll provide you with some signs to watch out for that may indicate a more serious situation. At the end of the lesson, we'll provide you with a Word about puncture wounds.

Sometimes, what looks like lameness caused by an injury may actually be a problem that's caused by an underlying neurologic disorder. In these types of situations, when you inspect your pet's limbs, you won't find any reaction from your pet or any source of the pain.

Signs of Severe Pet Lameness

You may recall some of the symptoms and signs of lameness from the last lesson. With severe lameness, the signs are much different and include the following:

  1. You may notice that your pet is suddenly walking with an abnormal gate. It may appear as though he or she is lacking coordination, or is now walking with what we call, a drunken sailor gate.
  2. You might also notice that your pet is knuckling over on some limbs, or in other words, scraping the ground with the tops of his or her feet.
  3. Another sign of severe pet lameness is when your pet walks in a way that crosses over his or her legs.

Warning: Any of these signs or symptoms may be an indication of a serious neurologic condition. If you notice any of the above, get your pet to the vet's office immediately, as this condition can progress to a point where your pet is unable to use his or her limbs at all.

Pro Tip: It's equally important to be careful during transport. Make sure not to move your pet too much. You don't want to make the injury (if indeed there is one) or the condition any worse until your veterinarian can do a thorough evaluation of your pet.

A Word About Puncture Wounds

Puncture wounds are some of the most commonly seen injuries by veterinarians, accounting for around 10 percent of all injuries they treat. They're also very difficult to find.

Despite your pet's skin being broken during a puncture wound, there likely won't be much blood, so there won't be an obvious trail of blood to follow. Also, if your pet has a thick coat of fur, this will make it even more difficult to spot a puncture wound. And lastly, since they are really small, this complicates matters further.

The biggest risk when it comes to puncture wounds is the risk of infection. Dogs' and cats' mouths are loaded with bacteria (just like our own) and when one animal bites another and breaks the skin, they are essentially injecting that bacteria into the animal that was bitten.

However, that injection of bacteria can cause numerous problems for your pet, even beyond infection, such as the growth of abscesses and even lameness. If you discover your pet has suffered a puncture wound, here are some tips for treating it.

  1. Do not cover the wound. Doing so will create an incubation style environment that will only assist in the growth of that bacteria.
  2. Clean the puncture wound, once you locate it, with only a non-caustic antiseptic, like saline or iodine, rather than the much more harmful alcohol and/or hydrogen peroxide type products.
  3. Watch closely for any signs of an infection. Check your pet's puncture wound often throughout the day for any signs of swelling, oozing pus, or abscesses.

If you notice any of the above signs of an infection, yes, that's right, get your pet to a veterinarian as quickly as you can. And even if you don't notice an infection, you still may want to consider a trip to the vet for any puncture wounds.

If you want to learn about a recipe for saline solution you can make at home, how to prevent puncture wounds, or to see some examples with photos to get a better idea of how they look, check out the entire article by pet expert Cara Armour. It's truly a comprehensive resource for all things puncture-related … in your pets that is.

You can read that entire article here: Pet First Aid Awareness Month – Start out with a Puncture.