Tissue Trauma in Pets: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Pets can suffer from soft tissue damage, sometimes requiring emergency care (such as this emergency veterinary care in Tigard). Though most commonly seen in the form of cuts, bruises, and scrapes, any kind of trauma to the skin or underlying tissues can cause this type of damage.

What Is Tissue Damage in Pets?

Tissues are the different kinds of materials that make up the animal body, including:

  • Skin
  • Muscles
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels
  • Internal organs

When any of these tissues are injured, it’s considered soft tissue damage. Soft tissue damage occurs when the body’s soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc.) are stretched beyond their normal limits. Note that bones are considered hard tissues.

Depending on the injury’s severity, treatment may range from home care to emergency surgery.

Common Causes of Tissue Damage in Pets

There are lots of ways that pets can suffer from tissue damage. Some common causes include:

  • Car accidents
  • Falls or other accidents in the home
  • Bites from other animals or people
  • Fighting with other animals
  • Cuts or scrapes from broken glass, metal, or other sharp

Symptoms of Soft Tissue Damage

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Decreased range of motion

Soft tissue damage can lead to serious complications, such as joint problems and chronic pain if left untreated.

Diagnosis of Tissue Damage in Pets

To diagnose soft tissue damage, your veterinarian will start by taking a thorough history and performing a physical examination. Your vet will ask how the injury occurred and if you’ve noticed any changes in your pet’s behavior or appearance. They will also feel around the area of the damage for tenderness, swelling, and bruising.

Your vet may also recommend one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • X-rays: These can help rule out fractures or other problems with the bones and joints.
  • CT scan or MRI: These imaging tests provide detailed pictures of the tissues, which can help determine the damage’s extent.
  • Ultrasound: This test can be used to evaluate the blood flow to the injured area and look for internal bleeding.

Treatment of Tissue Damage in Pets

Treatment for soft tissue damage depends on the severity of the injury, such as:

Home Care

For minor injuries, home care may be all that’s necessary. This includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Your vet may also recommend over-the-counter pain medications or prescription pain medications.


For more serious injuries, hospitalization if you need a vet surgery to repair torn ligaments or tendons, remove dead tissue, or realign bones. After surgery, your pet needs to rest and recover. This typically involves a period of confinement followed by gradual increases in activity as tolerated.

Physical Therapy

After your pet has recovered from the injury, your vet may recommend physical therapy to help them regain strength and flexibility. Physical therapy can be done at home or a rehabilitation center.

How to Prevent Tissue Damage in Pets

There’s no guaranteed way to prevent all tissue damage in pets. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk:

  • Keep their vaccinations up to date. This helps protect them from diseases that can cause tissue damage, such as rabies.
  • Avoid letting your pet roam free. This will help reduce the risk of car accidents, fights with other animals, and other trauma.
  • Supervise your pet around strangers. This will help reduce the risk of bites and other injuries.
  • Be cautious with activities. Don’t allow your pet to jump from heights or participate in other activities that could increase their injury risk.
  • Let your vet check your pet regularly. This helps in catching any health problems early before they cause tissue damage.

Keep in Mind

Tissue damage in pets can range from minor to severe. It’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible after the injury occurs to ensure the best possible outcome. Choose a reputable vet clinic or hospital with emergency vet services (such as Cascade Veterinary Referral Center) to ensure your pet gets the care when needed.