If your dog has a large wound, it may benefit from a skin graft. Skin grafts are great for wound repair, but they come with risks. Your veterinarian may explore other options to seal off and promote wound healing before they resort to skin grafts. Keep reading to learn more about large wounds, skin grafts and how they work.
Types of Wound Closures
When a dog has a large wound, the veterinarian has several options. The goal is to heal the wound with as few complications as possible. Each procedure has its risks, but some have fewer issues than others. Below are some of the common ways a veterinarian can choose to close a wound.
- Bandages help with shallow and superficial wounds.
- Stitches work well for smaller but deeper wounds with the adequate ability for the skin to stretch.
- Skin flaps with nearby skin that is still attached and is pliable enough to stretch over the wound work well with some larger wounds.
- Free grafts work for severe wounds and burns. The veterinarian takes a piece of skin from another part of the body and places it over the wound.
Skin grafts come in two general types: full or partial thickness. Partial-thickness grafts aren't as durable and could shrink or break apart. However, they often attach quickly, and the donor site often needs no sutures.
Full-thickness grafts don't attach quickly but often include more skin layers and fat. They usually last longer and have better results. However, full-thickness graft sites need suturing, so the dog has to deal with two wounds.
Procedure for a Skin Graft
Before your veterinarian can do a skin graft, they must clean up the initial wound. The clean-up procedure involves removing debris and dead tissue that could cause infection. Then they remove the skin from a donor site and attach it with staples and stitches to the new site. Finally, they place bandages over both the donor site and the wound.
Aftercare for Skin Grafts
For maximum success, you must take adequate care of the wounds and the grafts. Don't let your pet become too active until the graft starts to heal. Sutures and bandages could come apart if your dog moves around too much. Also, don't use ice packs on the wound as it prevents new blood vessel formulation. Visit your veterinarian if you notice unusual discharge or swelling.
A skin graft can be one of the best ways to help your pet's injury heal. However, it does come with risks, so your veterinarian will inform you of all your options. Since a wound needing a skin graft is extremely serious, don't hesitate to get care. The longer you wait, the more wound complications your dog will have.
For more information, contact a local vet.