Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Overview of Wound Management in Small Animals


Kevin P. Winkler

, DVM, DACVS, BluePearl Pet Hospital, Sandy Springs, GA

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2023

Wound healing is the restoration of the normal anatomical continuity to a disrupted area of tissue. An understanding of the normal process of wound healing is essential to make sound decisions in the management of wounds. Adherence to the principles of wound management helps avoid premature wound closure and potential complications.

Wounds may be classified as clean, contaminated, or infected.

Clean wounds are those created under aseptic conditions (eg, surgical incisions).

The number of bacteria present can determine the difference between contaminated and infected wounds. As a guideline, a microbial load of > 105 colony-forming units of bacteria per gram of tissue is considered adequate to cause infection. The level of contamination, blood supply, and the cause of the wound all contribute to development of the necessary conditions for infection, and each case must be assessed individually.

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