Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

Angus is an older Jack Russell Terrier who came to see me one Sunday. He was a quiet, timid, handheld package.

Angus had been in a dog fight and was the apparent loser. 

I will admit that most of the dog fights I see are JRT's, and in almost all of the cases it is an older Jack who lives with other Jack's. Almost invariably the victim is the source of the instigation and the subsequent fight. The older dog challenging the younger kid but miscalculating their size, skill, agility, strength, and swiftness.

Jack's are highly energetic, possessive, fierce little dogs. 

They love their parents, bond very closely with them, but have a low threshold for other dogs. And, in most of the cases I see the bruised battered Jack lives with other Jacks whom they squabble with every so often over some possession. And every so often that squabble erupts into a battle of bites. They fight quick  and dirty. A grumble turns into a snap and two seconds later someone is bleeding and limping. I have sewn up more Jacks than any other breed combined.

Such was the case with Angus.

Like a true lifelong fighter, Angus has a graying muzzle, a few scars, scratches, and a look of pain and humility in his eyes. Clearly this isn't his first encounter with a disgruntled roommate, and clearly he needs to rethink his self entitled crown.

When I first assessed Angus my first impression was he was incredibly painful. 

He also refused to use his back right leg. These are signs of an injury that should be seen immediately.

Angus also had a large swelling to the abdomen at the top of his right leg.

Of all of his puncture wounds, lacerations, and battle wounds this was the one I was most concerned about.

Here are some of the things that you should seek immediate attention for if your dog has been in a dog fight:
  •     Trouble breathing. Always an emergency.
  •     Trouble standing, or walking.
  •     Cries or snaps when touched.
  •     Blue tint to tongue or gums.
  •     Reluctant to lay down, sit down, or move.
  •     Limping.
  •     Seizure. Always an emergency.
  •     Bleeding that will not stop with gentle pressure for 5 minutes.
  •     Large and/or deep wounds.
  •     Injuries to the eye, mouth, throat, chest, or abdomen.
That wound on his right side looked like this on the x-ray. 

The right side of the film is normal. The ribs run down the right side to the body wall and then to the pelvis. The left side however has a bulge of soft tissue to the left of the side of the pelvis.

That bulge the to left of the pelvis is Angus's intestines. 

They  have escaped the confines of his abdomen from a rent (tear) in the abdominal wall.

If left untreated the intestines can strangulate and this will lead to death of the intestines and death of the rest of the dog.

Hernias can occur anytime there is a whole in the abdominal wall. 

We see them most commonly in the area of the belly button, inguinal hernia, or associated with a congenital abnormality. They should always be corrected surgically if any abdominal contents can slip out of the abdomen.

Angus had his abdominal hernia closed the next day. He was kept on pain medications and antibiotics from the time I saw him through the first two weeks post-op.

He made a full recovery and will live to see another kerfuffle. 

This time hopefully only a verbal match.

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Krista Magnifico, DVM owns a small animal hospital in northern Maryland, where she practices everyday. She wants to make quality veterinary care available to everyone, everywhere at any time; trying to save the world 1 wet nose @ a time.  Her blog is a diary of he day-to-day life & the animals and people she meets. 

Dr. Krista is also the founder of, free pet advice and assistance.

To contact her, you may leave a comment on her blog, email her or catch her on Twitter or Facebook.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw

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