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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Skin Pulled Away View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Skin contains structures called elastins that look kind of like broken rubber bands. These fibers give skin the ability to recoil after stretching. Skin, though, has its limits and when enough force impacts the body, a de-gloving injury results.


The skin rips or peels away - like removing a glove from your hand.


De-gloving, in which the skin rips or peels away - like removing a glove from your hand - most often results from fan belt injuries, car accidents that scrape skin off by dragging the pet against the pavement, or the blunt impact of a car against the body.


Diagnosis can be made by physical examination.


Pets need medical attention within 30 - 60 minutes of the injury to have the best chance to heal.

  1. Flush the wound with saline solution - Many times, dirt and gravel are ground into the tissue and need to be picked out when your pet is sedated at the animal hospital. If you wash out the injury and keep it moist, it can help preserve the tissues so that they heal better.

    Water isn't the best choice for washing raw tissue because the flesh will absorb the liquid into the cells and swell. Saline solution matches the body's liquid content more closely and will not cause swelling. If you don't have sterile saline contact lens solution, you can make saline by mixing 1 1/4 teaspoons of table salt with a pint of water. Use the saline solution to flush out the wound and keep it moist. If you have nothing else, use a stream of lukewarm water to flush out as much dirt as you can.
  2. Keep the wound moist - Soak clean cloths with the saline solution and cover the wound with them so that it doesn't dry out. This will also protect the exposed flesh from further contamination.

For larger wounds - The wound may look awful, but it isn't as dangerous by itself as the long term problems that can develop from bacteria and dirt. For a de-gloving injury, the best thing you can do is protect the wound with saline soaked cloths until you get medical attention.

For a big laceration that peels back the hide, it is best if you close it back up. Gently lay the skin flap back into place. Then cover the area with a towel or sheet moistened with sterile saline contact lens solution and hold the whole works in place with plastic wrap like Saran Wrap.


Never allow pet to roam freely, especially around roadways where the opportunity to be hit by a car is great.


When the skin of a de-gloving injury is promptly returned to its original position, similar to pulling on your socks, it generally heals relatively well as long as there is no open wound. Whether the injury is located on a leg, the tail, or the body, the vet's stitches will secure the skin back in place. After your pet is stitched, you will need to keep the area clean. Wipe away any drainage with a bit of warm water on a gauze pad.

Sometimes, part of the skin is damaged so severely that it dies and leaves open, gaping wounds. These injuries need frequent bandage changes that may go on for several weeks. It is important to keep the bandages clean and dry, so if your pet has injured his leg, slip a plastic bag over it before he goes outside. Be sure to take it off when he comes back inside.

Skin can often heal and cover the missing areas, but it takes time. Usually, the healing begins at the margins of the skin and moves inward. When recommended by your veterinarian, water therapy can help speed the healing process, and it also helps keep the area clean. Rinse the area 2 or 3 times a day for 10 - 15 minutes with a stream of pressurized luke-warm water from the hose or a hand-held shower head.

You may need to fit your pet with a collar restraint to keep him from licking the wound or bothering the bandage. Cone-shaped Elizabethan collars are available from veterinarians and pet-supply stores.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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