Dog Attack Wounds (Harris’ tale of survival)

Mar 23, 2022 | Dog Fights, Dogs

Harris was out for a lovely walk with his humans when he was attacked from behind by another dog playing ball in the park.

His owners immediately inspected poor Harris who was whimpering in pain, but because of his long fur they were not able to see any blood or wounds.

Harris a victim of a dog attackHarris in post-op recovery

Rushed to emergency for a check-up

Even though his fur-rents couldn’t see any initial damage, they decided to rush him to Animal Emergency Service Tanawha and asked the vets for a check-up and some pain relief.

The vet team were cautious that Harris’ pain may be worse than his owners thought, and clipped his fur for a closer inspection.

They found life-threatening tooth puncture wounds, and were concerned about the wound over Harris’ ribs.


Vets are especially vigilant when treating dog attack wounds, as often the surface looks much less worse than the damage done underneath (a common phenomenon known as ‘the iceberg affect’).

X-rays showed the damage went much deeper and was far more dangerous than anyone had originally thought – Harris had several broken ribs and his lungs were visible through the wound.

Harris was breathing through this wound in his chest and as a result he was unable to get enough oxygen into his blood.

At high risk of going into respiratory failure, Harris was stabilised with oxygen and intravenous fluids before being rushed into life saving surgery.

Dr Danielle Huston found significant damage to the muscles overlaying the ribs, along with several broken ribs.

These ribs had penetrated the diaphragm (a thin muscle layer that separates the lungs and heart from the abdominal organs).

Harris’ stomach was visible through this hole, which Dr Danielle repaired.

Harris’ lungs were checked for damage and his chest cavity was thoroughly cleaned to reduce the chance of infection.

Harris underwent an exploratory laparotomy to ensure the ribs did not puncture a hole in the stomach or liver, and thankfully there was no further damage to Harris’ abdominal organs.

All other small puncture wounds were cleaned and sutured closed and Harris began his recovery.

Harris' x-rayHarris’ x-ray showed several broken ribs and air around his lungs after a vicious dog attack at the park.


When Harris awoke from surgery he was kept in hospital for monitoring during his recovery.

Within a day Harris was able to breathe well on his own, and vets found no fluid build-up in his chest, meaning his chest tube could be removed earlier than expected.

After three days Harris was able to go home with his dedicated and loving owners.

Learn about dog attacks

‘The iceberg affect’ is something vets are extremely aware of, but that dog owners know little about. Animal Emergency Service vets recommend finding out more about the iceberg affect to understand the dangers lurking underneath dog attack injuries and wounds.

Read more about dog attacks in our guide.

If your pet has been a victim of a dog attack, contact your closest Animal Emergency Service hospital or your local vet immediately.

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