Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Skin: burn / scald

Contributor(s): Rosanna Marsella, David Scarff

Introduction

  • Cause:
    • Chemical.
    • Electrical current.
    • Solar and microwave radiation.
    • Thermal (flames, hot materials and liquids).
  • Signs: necrosis and coagulation of tissues. Severity depends on depth of damage.
  • Diagnosis: history, signs.
  • Treatment: wound management, fluid therapy, antimicrobials. Surgical resection may be necessary.
  • Prognosis: good unless burn is deep and extensive.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Chemicals - especially concentrated bleach, caustics, acids, disinfectants, etc.
  • Electric current Electrocution.
  • Solar or microwave radiation.
  • Flames; hot metal or liquids.

Predisposing factors

General
  • Debility.

Specific

  • Exposure to source of heat, radiation or electric current.
  • If in toxic shock, eg under surgery for pyometra, may be more susceptible to thermal injury - need care with heated pad, even if thermostatically controlled.
  • Alopecia increases risk of solar damage especially nasal and flank/dorsal alopecia.

Pathophysiology

  • Chemical/electrical/thermal injury to surface of skin -> necrosis of epidermis and deeper tissues.
  • Damage proportional to:
    • Length of exposure and temperature in thermal injury.
    • Concentration of chemical.
  • Coagulation necrosis of epidermis and deeper tissues.
  • Partial thickness → damage to epidermis only - may heal without scarring if appropriate therapy is given.
  • Full thickness → all skin structures are destroyed, including innervation and adnexae (especially hair follicles). Resultant scar tissue will be insensitive and alopecic.
  • Leads to necrosis -> fluid loss and sepsis -> death.

Timecourse

  • Damage may be instantaneous; extent may take time to tell.
  • A partial thickness burn may be extended to a full thickness injury if sepsis occurs.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Joubert K (1998) Ketamine hydrochloride - an adjunct for analgesia in dogs with burn wounds. J S Afr Vet Assoc 69 (3), 95-97 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Piscopo S (1999)Thermal Burns.Vet Forum. pp 36-48.


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