The bad thing about maggot wounds is that they are surprisingly common. The good thing is that unless a large part of the dog’s body or organs have been eaten away they are very easy to heal. Unfortunately any number of ‘home’ treatments complicate situations for dogs whereas actual treatment is straighforward and most of the time requires no hospitalization.
What are maggots and how do they get to dogs?
A puncture wound on a dogs skin especially a place he can’t lick can easily turn into a maggot wound. The most common places are the head or the back of the head, the paws, the tail or base of the tail etc. Puncture wounds could happen because of injury or even because of excessive scratching. Dogs will lick any puncture wound but if they can’t and if a fly can sit on it, it will lay eggs and the larvae that hatch become the maggots we see. The problem is that eggs hatch in thousands and they have a voracious appetite. Essentially the larvae are eating the dog alive and they can do it quickly.
The good thing is the maggots also keep the wound asceptic. The tissue has no bacterial load and it heals VERY FAST. All you need to do is kill the maggots, prevent recurrance and do not damage the tissue.
Treating maggot wounds
Before treatment you need to identify. Even if the wound is not an exposed would you can tell is a maggot wound by
- Smell – maggot wounds have a very strong putrid smell and
- Inflammation around the area – the the body tries to defend the advance of tissue being eaten alive it causes massive swelling.
The most commonly used stuff that is poured inside a maggot wound includes turpentine, choloform, tincture, even petrol. DON’T. These are painful substances for the dog and have little immediate effect on the maggots. If you see maggots alive in a wound follow these steps:
- Dressing the wound:
- Get yourself a vial of Ivermectin injection (available at vet shops). Take a 2/5ml syringe and draw the liquid in it. Ivermectin is a very viscous liquid so is it NOT easy to draw – to draw 2 ml say, push 2ml of air and then draw.
- Discard the needle, use only the syringe to squirt the ivermectin carefully ‘inside’ the wound. After this step do not do anything of a half hour other than cover the wound if you can. Ivermectin kills maggots on contact but it needs to seep in thorougly.
- After half hour use tweezers etc to take out the dead maggots.
- Flush wound with saline (RL) then with Povidone Iodine (betadine). Pat dry. Dress wound with an antiobic and bandage if required. If dead maggot is left inside (they can be very small – they are readily absolrobed by the body. But pay attention no live maggots are left in (see next step)
- Check wound every 2nd day – do not wash and dress everyday since the tissue needs time to regenerate
- Over the period of healing of the wound repeat steps 4 & 5.
- Oral/ injectible medication, post dressing:
- Put the dog on a course of Prednisalone (Wysalone) which is a steroid that will reduce inflammation and make up for extensive loss of platelets fighting the infection. 10mg/20kg is a sufficient dose x 5 days
- Antibiotic could be plain amoxillin or amoxillin + potassium clavunate (which is a 5th gen broad spectrum antibiotic. This is a human med available at drug stores/chemists). 325mg for 20kg is sufficient for x 5 days.
- The meds above can be given as injectibles as well and might be a better course of action if you can do so.
- Put the dog on a high protein nutrinous diet. While ‘Recovery’ and such brands are recommended just boiled chicken or boiled eggs is great protein by itself.
- You may add oral iron supplements such a Haemup to combat anemia.
- Remember these instructions are to give you the 1st line of defence to support the dog in your care and any situation may differ on diagnosis after a physical inspection and a CBC + Renal/Liver function test.
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