Suki is an exceptionally thin skinned dog. This doesn’t matter much in her usual day to day activities of lounging around the house and going for walks on the leash. But when she goes for a run, off the leash, she’s prone to bumping into sharp objects, lacerating herself.
The first incident happened when she was just six months old. She was playing in Stacey’s garden and she did no more than scrape against a rose bush as she dashed past. The rose thorns caused a one inch wide laceration in the skin on the side of her chest. Suki had to be taken to the vet to have the gaping hole stitched back together. The second episode happened nearly a year later: again, she was playing in the garden, but nobody saw what happened this time. When Stacey called her in for dinner, she noticed that there was a large cut on the underside of her abdomen. Once more, she had to be taken to the vet to have the wound repaired.
Just three months later, Suki suffered almost exactly the same type of tear to the skin of her abdomen, but this time, it was on the opposite side, and this time Stacey saw exactly what happened. Suki was playing with Stacey’s other dog, a small terrier. He was chasing Suki, and in the height of the game, he leapt at her, in a bit of normal doggy rough and tumble. He launched himself at her with his mouth open. In a normal normal thick skinned dog, no damage would have been done, but Suki’s fine fur and thin skin were too fragile. As before, the injury was more than a graze: it was a full thickness cut right through her skin, as if she’d been slashed by someone with a sharp blade. Luckily, the vital structures beneath the skin were not damaged, and the superficial wound could be stitched back together without too much to worry about. Suki is a fast healer, and as on previous occasions, she made a full recovery within a couple of weeks.
In the past week, the most dramatic incident so far happened. Suki was playing with her terrier friend in the garden while Stacey was indoors. She heard a loud yelp, and rushed out to see what was going on. Suki was standing there with blood gushing from a wound on her right foreleg. Stacey did her best to stem the flow of blood by wrapping kitchen towels around the leg, and rushed Suki down to our clinic.
Suki was able to walk into our waiting room, but blood was still pumping from the wound: one of the major blood vessels in her front leg had been slashed. She needed to be admitted for an anaesthetic so that I could stop the bleeding and repair the wound. She now has a large bandage on her front leg: I suspect she’ll heal well, as she has in the past, but Stacey has had enough: something has to be done to stop this from recurring.
At this stage, Stacey wonders if rough play from the terrier could be causing more of an issue than she has previously thought. She doesn’t want to separate the dogs because they have so much fun playing together. Stacey jokingly said “she needs a suit of armour”, and this reminded me of a genuine possible answer. You can buy custom-made Lycra body suits for dogs, manufactured in the USA. They are used for a variety of reasons, such as stopping dogs from licking wounds, but they do provide an extra level of protection for fragile skin.
Could Suki become the first Irish dog to wear a twenty first century suit of armour?
- Some dogs are exceptionally thin skinned
- Recurrent skin lacerations are a serious problem
- In most cases, the answer is to find out the cause and remove it, but this is not always easy to do