This is going to be a post with a personal edge, since I’m going to talk about something that happened to my Whippet Misty… she cut herself running in some woods. While not really a Whippet health problem per se, Whippet skin tears easily.
Hence in this post I’m going to talk about Whippet skin tear injuries, how they happen and what to do to avoid them.
I’ll start by explaining what happened to us and then discuss why Whippets are prone to such injuries.
As a word of warning for the squeamish, I’ll be including photos that show what happened, some of which are graphic. I’ll put these in an accordion (along with a warning) that you can choose to open or not, just in case you don’t want to see them.
Table of Contents
- Misty the Whippet’s Skin Tear
- Why Are Whippets Prone to Skin Tears?
- How to Prevent Whippet Skin Tears
Misty the Whippet’s Skin Tear
Several months ago, my daughters and I took Misty for a walk in Pipley Wood, an ancient woodland at Lansdown in Bath (UK), near to where we live. It’s a beautiful woodland, and although privately owned, the general public is allowed to use it freely and dogs are permitted too.
In the past, Misty seems to have really enjoyed sniffing around the mossy stones, looking for things we can’t see and generally exploring the area.
Typically when we’ve been at Pipley Wood, Misty would often go off to check out the woodland and then come back to us when she felt we were getting to far out of her range.
Unfortunately for us on this day, as she was coming back to us after one such foray into the woodland, she caught up with my daughters and tried to go past them.
As my daughter were walking past an uprooted tree, Misty caught herself on one of the roots and tore her skin.
This is the result…
Graphic Content Below… An Image of My Whippet’s Skin Tear
Misty’s Skin Tear
The v-shaped skin tear was right above Misty’s left hind leg and appeared to be deep… at least down to the muscle. It didn’t bleed very much, which I was surprised about, but I’m guessing it’s because the tree root had only torn the skin rather than cut into her leg muscle.
Of course we had to stop our walk immediately and carry her back to our car. When were were in the car I contacted the veterinary practise we use and told them we needed an emergency appointment. They asked us to send photos in advance, if we could… I sent them the photo I’ve posted above.
At the veterinary practise, we were advised that Misty would require surgery (which we figured) and would need to stay overnight. They told us that Whippet skin tear repairs were not uncommon but that Misty would require anaesthesia… always a risk, since Whippets are sensitive to anaesthetics.
We left Misty with our veterinary practise who’d told us they’d operate within 2 hours.
Later that evening we received a call from the veterinary surgeon who told us they’s been able to patch up Misty’s skin tear, and that the procedure had gone well. He also told us we could pick her up the following day.
We collected Misty in the late afternoon the following day and this is how the skin tear looked after the surgery…
Graphic Content Below… An Image of My Whippet’s Skin Tear Sutures
Misty’s Skin Tear Sutures
Our veterinary surgeon advised that because of the nature of the skin tear (a v-shape), he’d had to remove some of the skin to enable clean and straight sutures.
We think he did an amazing job… and several months on, the scarring from the skin tear is not noticeable at all.
Misty has gotten herself into several scrapes since she’s lived withe us. Find out what happened when she ate raisins.
Why Are Whippets Prone to Skin Tears?
Sadly, Whippets are prone to skin tears. They are single coated and have short fur, which provides very little protection against scrapes and scratches.
Given Whippets run at such fast speeds, if they run too close to thorny bushes, barbed wire fences or anything even slightly jagged, a skin tear will be the likely outcome.
Small cuts and nicks aren’t necessarily a medical emergency if they’re not deep. However, a deep or long skin tear, or a tear near to a joint where movement might cause it to open further, will likely require surgical treatment.
How to Prevent a Whippet Skin Tear
It’s difficult really. As I’ve mentioned, Whippets run at speed and so anywhere you take them potentially poses a risk.
As a rule for us now, we tend to avoid woods and prefer to walk her in contained areas that have lots of space for her to run around… but we’re lucky to have several options where we live.
In some forums I’ve visited, other short-coated sighthound owners have mentioned putting a coat on your dog before taking them places that could be risky for skin tears, and perhaps that will help.
Conversely, a coat might well end up causing injury too if it gets caught in something while your Whippet is running at full-tilt.
Prevention is of course always better than cure, so awareness is perhaps one of the best ways to avoid skin tears. Being aware of your surroundings and perhaps steering your Whippet away from areas that might pose a danger will help.
For me, I always try to keep Misty away from bushes and fences whenever they’re near and I change the direction of my walk to move away from them when I see them.
Of course this can be difficult.
Even if you’re walking somewhere really safe, Whippets can still get themselves into mischief, especially if they see something that triggers “chase mode”.
When the prey drive kicks in, a Whippet will stop at nothing to catch what they’re chasing. If their quarry runs into bush, a Whippet might try to follow and end up with a skin tear.
Like all short-coated Sighthounds, Whippets pick up cuts and skin tears quite easily: their coats really do offer little protection.
Small skin scratches are common for Whippets, but sadly so too are skin tears. My veterinary practise told me that most skin tears they treat are for Sighthounds.
The best way to minimise the chances of a Whippet skin tear are to try to stay away from places that pose a risk… sadly, woodlands can present many opportunities for a skin tear.
Finally, if you’re walking your dog somewhere remote, you may well want to keep a dog first aid kit in your vehicle… just in case!
Do you have experience of a Whippet skin tear? What happened? Please tell me about your experiences in the comment section below.