Caring Quality Service
160 Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch
Northlands Animal Hospital
Science DietNorthlands Animal Care Hospital
Braveheart Award Braveheart of the Month - Bella

Figure 1


Bella presented to us for extensive wounds to her body, legs, paws and face. She had sustained these injuries just moments prior to arrival from a freak accident where her tiny 4 kg frame was dragged along a road. She had de-gloving injuries to all her feet and some tendon exposure to her front legs. (figure 1)

Using first principals (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) in any animal that hasbeen injured, she received intravenous fluids to support her heart and organs. She also received pain relief and antibiotics.  Her wounds were then cleaned and bandaged to prevent further contamination from the environment.

Once Bella was more stable, she was anaesthetised and all her wounds were clipped up and thoroughly flushed with sterile saline, sutured where there was enough skin and then bandaged. (figure 2)

Bella remained in a critical state due to the nature of the wounds. 

Wound Management

Figure 2

The skin is made up of several layers.  The first is the outermost which serves to protect. Areas with hair are thinner and conversely, areas with no hair (feet, nose) are much thicker.  The skin receives all its nutrients from the small blood vessels supplying it.

There are 4 phases to wound healing:

  1. Inflammation – initial bleeding cleans and fills the wounds
  2. Debridement – here WBC and fluid and dead cells accumulate to prevent infection and break down bacteria
  3. Repair Starts 3-5 days after injury where new healthy tissue starts to grow from the edges. This is called "granulation tissue"
  4. Maturation – This is where the strength of the new tissue increases. This new tissue will NEVER regain its full strength, only 80% and can take years for this to occur.

The way in which a wound heals is largely due not only to the extent of the wounds but external factors such as infections, age, concurrent medical problems, undernourished/under weight etc.

Figure 3

Extensive wounds such as these as similar to burns victims where they can loose a lot of fluid from the body so its very important to ensure the animal receives ample fluids so they do not get dehydrated or loose too many proteins.


Bella had numerous bandage changes where all her wounds were cleaned and re bandaged. These required general anaesthetics, as they were very painful procedures.  She remained on a long course of antibiotics and pain relief and received fluids during her procedures

Bella at day 22
(Figure 3)


Figure 4

After 4 weeks, Bella’s injuries no longer needed to be bandaged and were healing very well. The extent of the damage to the tendons is yet unknown but the worst outcome will be restriction of some of her movements (figure 8)

Good on you Bella, you definitely deserve a medal for your bravery!!!