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Dog and puppy health care questions and answers, articles, videos and images

Surgery Infections  In Dogs And Cats  
Questions and answers about surgery 
incision infections of dogs and cat

surgery on an infected incision

Kitten and cat health care questions and answers, articles, videos and images

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If your pet is sick, call your local veterinarian immediately

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Our cat was spayed about three weeks ago and the surgery incision seems infected.  It drains a little and there's a bump where the stitches were.  
     Will this go away on its own or should I take it back to the vet?  She seems to feel OK and only licks at it to clean it.

surgery infected incision
Infected surgical incision in a dog
after a spay surgery

Answer:  infected incision... surgery... about
The short answer is, yes, take it to the veterinarian right away!  Usually when an incision is healing properly there will be little evidence of any surgery at the incision site.  Infected surgery incisions can be serious, often requiring surgery to debride scar tissue buildup and removal of contaminated sutures. Antibiotics by themselves may not correct the infected surgical incision.

                  Below are a few common reasons for surgical incision infections:
infected  bacterial contamination of surgery instruments
infected  inadequate sterility protocols
infected  contamination of suture material
infected  entry of bacteria through the incision
infected  failure of client to follow post operative recommendations about keeping the patient quiet and the surgical incision clean
infected  suppressed immune competence of the patient
infected  disruption of blood supply at surgery site
             Call your veterinarian right away to have your cat's infected incision checked.  Sometimes all that's needed is to remove a subcutaneous stitch that's initiating a reaction.  Other times, a thorough clean-up of the area is required such as is shown in the images below.  There will be more info on this topic coming soon.   

Doctor's Notes
     Always be clear about the post surgical instructions for your dog or cat.  Keeping the pet confined... quiet... under control is imperative for proper healing to occur. 
Cleaning the incision
Unless otherwise instructed do not bathe or clean the incision.  If skin stitches are present they must be removed in about 10 to 14 days.

Tick Avoidance
There are no products or methods to effectively and safely repel fleas and ticks; someday soon there may be.  DEET products that humans apply to clothing can be quite toxic for dogs.  
     Safe anti-tick products are available from your veterinarian but none actually repel/prevent ticks from getting on your dog!  They work only after the parasites contact the oil layer of the dog's skin.

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Go to to see a number of images of dogs and cats with various conditions and diseases.  

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Click on an image to view a larger version in a new window

infected surgery incision in a cat infected surgery incision in a cat infected surgery incision in a cat infected surgery incision in a cat
A cat with an infected incision three weeks after surgery The site is incised to expose the granulation (scar and healing tissues) around the surgical site Tissue is cut away to better expose the abdominal wall and original incision  The original incision and contaminated sutures are exposed
post operative surgery infection post operative surgery infection post operative surgery infection infected surgery incision in a cat
The entire surgical area is debrided (scraped clean) of abnormal fibrous tissue This is a very close-up look a the incision after the original sutures have been removed The cleaned-up surgical site is now reinforced with new sutures Close-up of abdominal wall closure
TheAnswerVet post operative surgery infection TheAnswerVet post operative surgery infection TheAnswerVet post operative surgery infection infected spay incision
The subcutaneous tissues are closed snugly over the incision More sutures are placed beneath the skin The incision is closed using small subcutaneous sutures that will be absorbed within several months  Stainless steel sutures were used because this patient was operated on previously for spay  incision infection.



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Related questions and answers...                   

My vet didn't use antibiotics after our dog was neutered and now he (our dog!) is really bothered by the red and swollen incision.  Should I call the vet for a prescription?

Answer:     infected incision... dog neuter
Definitely call!  infected dog neuter incisionThe doctor will want to see the patient before a selection of proper therapy is made.  Many human and veterinary medical doctors do not routinely dispense or prescribe antibiotics after routine surgery.  Some dispense antibiotics only if an infection in the incision seems likely; some always dispense or prescribe antibiotics after all surgical procedures.
     Because any infection in the body has potential to spread from a localized area to other areas, the infected incision needs veterinary attention right away.
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