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(TPLO surgery, post op infection in a dog)

The vast majority of infections occurring in companion animals occur after bone (orthopaedic) surgery, especially where pins, screws and other materials need to be left inside the body. Infections can also occur in longer-term conditions such as dermatitis and, in particular, non-healing wounds which can have pus dripping from them.

  

Emma now recovered from MRSA following surgery on her foot

All skin infections look similar. (Click Here) Skin can become red, hot and swollen. Boils or other abnormal signs such as non-healing wounds may be present. Pus is often a sign of infection.

We always worry when a pet becomes lethargic or loses their appetite. You should always report these signs to your vet; however, they do NOT necessarily mean that your pet has an infection.

If you notice skin irritation, redness, other abnormalities of the skin, or a non-healing surgical wound, then report this to your vet. Taking samples to find out whether bacteria are involved (and if so, what antibiotics will kill them) is always a very good idea – and if the patient is a high-risk case, sampling is extremely important. The techniques used are called “cytology” and “culture and sensitivity”. Cytology tells us if there is an infection happening (it’s possible for bacteria to be present but not actually be causing a problem); Culture and sensitivity testing tells us what bacteria are present and which antibiotics are likely to kill them.

These samples allow us to know that we should definitely use an antibiotic, and help us to choose one knowing that it is likely to work. Without doing these tests, we would have to simply make a guess and choose something off the shelf. However, testing is more expensive, and it will take a few days for results to come back; so the vet will normally choose an antibiotic that they think is likely to do the job in the meantime.

DON’T PANIC – inflammation of a surgical wound is common as part of the healing process; and even if infection is present, the vast majority of cases do NOT have MRSA.

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