Cats and dogs commonly injure themselves when out and about, with skin tears and penetrating wounds often needing stitching. Stitching a wound is not a simple matter of stitching the skin together. The wound needs exploring to see how deep it goes and what structures are involved. Sometimes muscle and tendons also need repairing. The wound needs thoroughly cleaning to prevent infection and sometimes this requires cutting away dirty and infected tissue to leave just clean, fresh tissue behind. In deep penetrating wounds hair from the pets own skin and other foreign materials can be pushed deep into the wound. This needs to be removed. Rubber drains are often stitched into wounds to help prevent build-up of inflammatory fluids under the skin which would otherwise delay healing and encourage infection.
Preventing pain during the procedure is important to us. We infuse wounds with local anaesthetic and provide post-operative pain relief. We perform all stitch-ups under sedation or if necessary under full general anaesthesia. We will not suture wounds without sedation or anaesthesia unless it is a very simple wound requiring only a single stitch or two.
Some wounds are not appropriate for stitching and need to be left to heal with scar tissue. These wounds need thoroughly cleaning and required special care during the healing process to encourage scar tissue formation. Choice of wound-care products is important and it is best to talk to your vet about what dressing materials are most appropriate for any particular wound.