ABOUT Pet Abscess

Animals get wounds just like humans do, but probably more often because of territorial spats they may get into. Additionally the spent more time closer to nature and can get puncture wounds from insect or snake bites or stings. The healing process is the same in animals as it is in humans.

A deep cut represents a routine form of wound healing. Tissue is damaged, so cells break and leak fluid into the surrounding area. Vessels break and seep blood into tissue. Blood normally clots to contain the seepage. Then inflammatory cells (mostly white cells, called macrophages) enter the area to gobble up and carry away tissue waste. Platelets are tiny cells that aid in clotting.

Eventually cells called fibroblasts move in to create a stable structure upon which cells can regenerate and re-form into new tissue. Sometimes, fibroblast development is very strong and cells do not re-form; this is called “scar tissue.”

When this process is overdone, especially when drainage does not occur so easily, fibroblast proliferation develops a thick wall, which we label as “abscess.”

Bites and stings are almost always puncture wounds, so there are some general considerations. They apply as well to puncture wounds from a nail or even a gunshot wound.

A deep puncture wound penetrates several layers of tissue:

The challenge with this type of wound is two-fold: Bacteria can be carried deep into tissue with the puncture, and the wound closes off quickly. Bacteria that cannot live without oxygen die, but there are many (called “anaerobes”) that thrive in no-oxygen environments. They often live in soil, which makes stepping on a nail dangerous.

At one level, an abscess can form, where bacteria or foreign bodies (stingers, stickers, etc.) get walled off by the body in order to protect against more generalized infection.

In this case, the idea is to draw the bacteria and/or foreign bodies to the surface, so it can drain. Applying hot packs helps the process by drawing circulation to the region; the immune system aids the walling off and draining process.

One of the most effective treatments is Ichthammol (one brand in the US is Draw Out Salve). This is a thick tarry substance made of concentrated seaweed. It is very high in protein and has a very strong osmotic pressure that pulls the bacteria and foreign substance to the surface. The way to use it is to make a thick (1/4 inch) layer over the abscess, cover it with gauze, and leave it on for two or more days. Once the abscess points and starts draining pus, ordinary gauze without Ichthammol can be used.

A similar treatment in many countries utilizes clay applications.

Finally, there are eRemedies that can help abscesses drain, to be found at eremedyonline.com/module/6/pet-abscess/.