Hen Attacked by Neighbors Dog - What to Do?


11 Years
Feb 12, 2012
Woodland, CA (near Sacramento)
Our Buff Orpington hen was attacked this morning and has substantial wounds. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this? Should we take it to a certain type of vet, get it on antibiotics? Some would probably say "just eat it," but my wife loves our hens and we need to try and get it back to health. Thanks!
Are the wounds superficial flesh wounds or are there broken bones or potential for vital organs pierced internally?

If flesh wounds you'll need to clean out each wound with a good antibacterial soap and then rinse well with water. Allow your bird to dry well don't let it go out in the cold with wet feathers. Then I would get some Veterycin from your farm fleet supply--it's $27 at our store but I think it probably beats a Vet bill. If you can't get Veterycin right away I think a topical antibiotic ointment from your home will suffice for today (Bacitracin, polysporin, neosporin--my last choice). Then put a non stick gauze over the wound and wrap as best as you can with a non stick wrapping material--Vet Wrap is the best--sticks to itself and not the bird. I would isolate your bird in a dog kennel and keep and eye on her tonight and away from the rest of the flock. Offer some electrolytes, wholesome treats/grains/fruits/vegetables.

If you're thinking the injuries are deeper--bones or organs you might have to cull or visit your veterinarian.
very sorry to hear about the attack. we have a neighbor that owns a pit bull. the dog is a cat & bird killer, and has attacked people. . they have not put in good fencing in the 1.5 years they had the dog. i already informed him, since he is not being a responsible pet owner, his dog is dust if he ever bothers my daughters or pets. this does not help you much, but it was the only solution i could come up with since animal control and the sherriff dept. could not offer ANY help. good luck
Thanks so much. I'm at work and my wife is relaying me info from home. She said she saw some red skin and missing feathers as it scurried under our deck, where it is laying now. She cannot reach it. Reportedly, the neighbors dog got it pretty good though.

I'm leaving for home shortly and will stop by our farm supply store on the way home to try and get some Veterycin (is this topical?). I imagine it is puncture wonds, hopefully not organs or it might pass by the time I get home in 45 min. We have a vet school nearby so I will try calling them too. Thanks again!
Thanks so much. I'm at work and my wife is relaying me info from home. She said she saw some red skin and missing feathers as it scurried under our deck, where it is laying now. She cannot reach it. Reportedly, the neighbors dog got it pretty good though.

I'm leaving for home shortly and will stop by our farm supply store on the way home to try and get some Veterycin (is this topical?). I imagine it is puncture wonds, hopefully not organs or it might pass by the time I get home in 45 min. We have a vet school nearby so I will try calling them too. Thanks again!

Sorry for your troubles … first/foremost, when these things happen? Try 'n do your best to remain calm/civil/etc. It's not easy, and I know that my temper tends to have a hair trigger when others even seem to not respond as I think they should. And, dealin' w/ the dog can wait. That said?

It's 'Vetericyn' that you're lookin' for, and it is a topical non-toxic broad spectrum antimicrobial. OTC formulation is ½ the strength of the VF.

To help encourage her to come out? Try sittin' w/in sight w/ your calmest bird … helped me recover a chick just the other day ~'-)
Thanks so much. I'm at work and my wife is relaying me info from home. She said she saw some red skin and missing feathers as it scurried under our deck, where it is laying now. She cannot reach it. Reportedly, the neighbors dog got it pretty good though.

I'm leaving for home shortly and will stop by our farm supply store on the way home to try and get some Veterycin (is this topical?). I imagine it is puncture wonds, hopefully not organs or it might pass by the time I get home in 45 min. We have a vet school nearby so I will try calling them too. Thanks again!
Vetericyn it's in a convenient pump spray bottle... Super easy to apply. You can get the vet wrap and the electrolytes (little packets) for chickens there too. You might have to stop at a Drug store for the non stick gauze if you don't have any at home. This sounds fixable...Good luck and let us know how it goes.
I used Vetericyn on one of my girls that got a 3" round skin tear from mating. Worked great. Had her back in the flock in two weeks and 4 weeks later all new skin has grown in.

Here's a link to a thread about wound care that I like. Lot's of good info. Pay attention to post #16 by three horses, good info there.


Did not know horses could type, esp. three at the same keyboard? Oh .. ok. got it ~'-)

Information posted by threehorses in the aforementioned thread:

Wound Care for Chickens, by Nathalie Ross (sorry I typed it out this way so I wouldn't forget anything by retyping it....)

Here's my usual way of doing wounds. It's worked for some pretty extreme wounds, including one 2x1 wound that went all the way down to the silver covering of the spine of one bird.

First, gather materials:
VetWrap or similar self-adhesive wrap.
gauze wrapping type bandages or squares (depending on what you have to bandage)
non-stick pads (depending on what you have to wrap)
antibiotic ointment (neosporin, Swat for horses if you have flies around)
hydrogen peroxide (h202)
warm water
a needleless syringe - preferably a big one like 30 cc's
suture material if you need it (this ideally should be left to a vet)
a small pair of scissors like cuticle scissors are helpful
large scissors
(duct tape in some cases)
a good safe blood clotter. I prefer Clotisol as it's not poisonous and clots IMMEDIATELY even in high blood situations. You can even use it inside of beaks. It's water based, lasts ages for a small bottle. Seriously - ages. You can pretty much only get it online, but it's a must-have for a cabinet. Once you use it, you won't go back.
clean clothes that can be stained

First, an important note. It would be ideal if, as poultry owners faced with an injured bird, that the bird be taken to a qualified veterinarian who can not only dress the wounds, access the damage, but also prescribe the correct antibiotics and follow up as necessary. This, first and foremost, is what I recommend for any wound situation that is more than minor. Please take that to heart.

If instead you decide to treat the wound yourself, here are some basic instructions on how to do so. Note that every wound, every case, is different. Use your common sense and imagination on determining when this protocol must be flexed to fit your situation.

First, examine the bird and find all wounds. Use your big and little scissors to trim feathers away from the area. Try to only take as many as could touch the wound, no more - they need feather protection and the feathers won't grow back til next moult. Also be careful, if wing feathers are near, not to cut the living flesh part inside feather quills.

If the wounds are under the wing, sometimes you can simply wrap the wing in a t-shirt to keep whatever touches the wing clean. Baby tshirts would be great for this. Neck part at the top of the wing, fitted with a little duct tape on the cloth (not tight please) and just tie the other end of the tshirt.

Make sure to look very carefully against the skin for puncture wounds. There might not be look, and puncture wounds are tricky and hard to find. Note the location and severity of all wounds.

Take your syringe and fill with H202 (straight) or h202 slightly diluted with water. Use the syringe to vigously clean the wound area including in the wounds. If the wounds are puncture wounds, use diluted water/h202, not straight. You only use h202 the first time as it tends to burn tissues and keep them from healing if you continue. But it's great for bubbling out bits of dirt from inside the wound. Do this cleansing about three times per wound.

Follow up by rinsing out the h2o2 with a water/iodine mixture made to be just the color of slightly strong iced tea. You want it warm. Fill your same syringe that you used with the h2o2 and flush the wounds rather vigorously.

At this time, if there are any pieces of flesh that need to be removed, remove them. This is where I use a q-tip dipped in a bottle-cap full of clotisol (so you don't contaminate the original bottle).

Doing this on a table that's ok to stain is best. I've done this on my truck's tail gate as I can clean it afterwards. Place a lot of papertowels under the birds for these two cleansing phases to keep the drainoff from going everywhere.

Use another clean papertowel to dry the wound. You want to leave some iodine solution inside the wound - it doesn't have to be skin-dry. Just dry enough for some ointment to stick.

Once the wound is well cleaned, then you'll want to dress it. I use Neosporin and q-tips most often for this job. If there are flies in the area at all, I will use Neosporin inside the wounds (ointment) and use Swat wound ointment for horses instead. (It has fly repellent that's safe for poultry in it.) I fill punctures with neosporin. If they're deep, I stick the top of the tube into the wound (and throw away the tube after I'm done with everything). Pack it. You usually want air in a wound, but puncture wounds can sometimes heal on top first and leave a pocket inside. The antibiotic ointment (not creme) is a little insurance against too much bacteria and thus abcesses.

If the wound is one that absolutely must be stitched, then pack it with the antibiotic ointment. If you're using a flyproof ointment, wipe the wound and then use the fly-proof on top. Otherwise just wipe slightly so there's a little antibiotic ointment on the important top part of the wound. You don't want to stray too far from just the wound, keep the bird dry.

On closing wounds with sutures. Puncture wounds shouldn't be sutured. Bad bacteria love a place where there's no oxygen. Suturing closes the wound and encourages festering within. As much air as you can get to a wound, the better, except that the interior of punctures should have some antibacterial action going on.

I've had some serious wounds in my flock before. The only time I've sutured was when a very large flap of skin was torn from the front of a neck (read as 3 inches by 10 inch flap). Another recent case involves a possible rather large hole in a crop which, should it leak food, should be sutured. Otherwise try to leave things open. Poultry can regrow an amazing amount of skin back if there's muscle underneath. New skin will granulate and grow in to fill in gaps that would surprise you.

On the areas that are just uncovered, I usually use antibiotic creme (versus ointment) because it's water based. Sometimes I'll just put a thin smear of antibiotic ointment, however, if that's what I have. Or fly-preventative ointment if there are flies in the area.

If at all possible, try not to cover with bandages. The average bandage keeps air out and moisture in and not in a good way. If you must bandage (a dirt floor area, extreme fly issues, etc) then try to keep the bandage to a minimum and very airy. That's why I'm not a big fan of nonstick bandages. They tend to trap moisture and cause a very warm airless area. But sometimes you have to use them. If so, cover the wound with the bandage. Wrap twice with very gauzey gauze wrap. Then put one layer only of VetWrap over. If you must secure (to keep the bandage from falling, for example) you can use very thin strips of duct tape like you would tape a birthday present. Using as little as possible, but a very strong tape like duct tape, helps let the air in.

Sometimes I've even used just one layer of a very clean paper towel rather than use a non-stick. Afterwards, if you have to remove it, you can soak with warm water and pick the bits out if it sticks. Gauze tends to embed in wound seepage.

Think out of the box when it comes to covering areas that are wounded. With my geese who had multiple puncture and surface wounds on their chest, and a high fly area, I used one white sheet that I formed into a sort of front-bib and tied behind their back. T-shirts are also awesome to cover a bird's body. Buy the appropriate size, slip the neck over their neck, their legs through the arm holes, cut two holes through which you slip their wings. Gather the bottom end (cut so that you don't cover their vent) at the top of their back and duct-tape the cloth to make it stay fitted. T-shirts are very airy, cheap, washable, and absorbent.

If your bird requires stitches, suture material with thread attached can be found at many feedstores or purchased online ahead of time. The size you want is for dogs and cats. Sutures aren't stitched like a pillow case, but each stitch is its own knot. The semi-circular needles of suture needles are ideal for going into and out of the skin. Note: stitching is not easy - skin is tough, usually the needle is slippery, and it's rather tough to do. Overestimate the amount of suture material you need as you'll make knots and cut off the excess bit sticking up.

Many wounds, if properly cleaned and dressed and left airy, do not need much maintenance. Oddly, one of the best ways of telling whether or not a wound is doing well is by using your nose. Smell the wound at the time of cleaning. Wounds have a particular almost sweet but not cloyingly sweet smell. Remember the smell. Then smell the wound daily to see if you smell rot. If you do, there's not enough air to the wound and possible infection going on.

Wounds will seep a little - that's natural and the body's way of dealing with wounds. Usually the seepage will be mostly clear and smell of wound. However, if there's any opaqueness to it, or clotted texture, that's infection. Also there will be some natural inflammation as the body tries to bully off the bad bacteria and bring in healing materials to the wound. However excessive inflammation, discoloration (especially black or green), should be noted.

If a wound needs cleaning or examining, take off what bandages you can gently. If they stick to the seepage from the wound, use warm water to soak the bandage parts remaining away from the drainage.

Then examine the wound, determine what needs to be done, and redress from the iodine stage onward.

Many wounds do not require additional antibiotics other than topical (on the skin) antibiotic dressings. However in the case of animal bites that weren't caught immediately, cat bites, and wounds that have been sitting or are particularly deep, it may be a good idea to treat with antibiotics. If you make this decision, please be sure to get one that is appropriate for wounds. The packages at the feedstore are not.

Penicillin G Procaine (Aqueous Pen-G) is commonly found at many feedstores in their fridge section. It's awesome to keep in your own fridge for a rainy day. It's a very thick antibiotic and requires a thicker gauge needle. I would use no thinner than a 22 gauge, preferably something more thick at a length of .75 to 1 inch. At many feedstores, you can buy 3 cc syringes that are together already with needles. These are nice to have on hand as well as that 30 cc syringe that you'll use to flush wounds.

Instructions on how to give an injection are available separately as well as how to treat with antibiotics. If you do choose to use injectable antibiotics, be prepared to go the entire recommended course. Penicillin G Procaine is a concentrated penicillin (they're not all created equally) and only is required to be given every other day. Based on the type of antibiotic you expect to use, buy that many syringes plus two.

Birds in healing mode need help being stabilized, nourished, and hydrated. We all know how delicate birds can be, but it's surprising how resilient they can be at times. However, wounds will often depress a bird or cause them to go into shock. A stressed or shocked bird may not be able to digest foods they're commonly given. For that reason, I recommend only giving easily dissolved feeds when a bird is in the first stages of recovery. Think crumbles, pellets, etc. You don't want to make a drastic change in their diet ever, much less when they're already stressed. If a bird is reluctant to eat, try wetting the pellets/crumbles. You can also add a boiled egg yolk (one per six cups of food) mashed into the crumbles. I like to also give probiotics (yogurt, Fastrack, Probiocs, acidophilus, or whatever I have available) during this time to combat a secondary intestinal disorder from stress and change of way of eating. Yogurt is simple. You can mix 1 tablespoon per two cups of feed.

The added protein in an egg yolk helps the bird to heal. Adding a capsule of vitamin E to that mash (one per 2 cups of mash) also helps healing. If the birds are stressy, or not able to eat normally, I'll use a vitamin/electrolyte mix in their water for the first few days. I never ever use an oral antibiotic for wound treatment. Period.

It's unfortunately common that poultry are victims of predation and wounds. They are delicate and, with their ultra-fast metabolisms, can die readily if they decide to. Remember that an injured bird can often have internal injuries we never see. If you lose them, just remember you tried your best. However you might be surprised, with proper wound-care, how many of these birds recover to absolutely normal lives. Just be patient as healing takes a while. Usually separate the birds, but if they can be near their peers they take heart from it and will do better.

Good luck with your flock, and I hope this information has been helpful.
Nathalie Ross
(Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. The author is not a veterinarian and does not intend to dispense information that at all should replace the advice of a qualified avian vet.)

* Note that I am no doctor, but have stitched up a few animals (including myself) and thought I should add a few precautions:
  • avoid completely closing some puncture wounds, most esp. bite wounds, or anywhere that infection is present.
  • stitches should never hook skin to muscle -- treat each independently, if req'd.
  • hemostats and needle-nosed pliers are great (good ones, like old leatherman's ~'-)
  • everything must be completely sterile, of don't even consider doin' such a thing (best to leave such things to vets/doctors anyhow).

Another unapproved off-label thing that I've done is to use superglue to attach fabric or netting to prepared areas on either side of a wound, paying special attention not to allow it to enter any wounded tissue (it burns, and most probably ain't healthy). I usually attach strips to one side and/or the other, allowing them to set before gently tensioning to a drop applied on the other. It usually takes about 7-10 days to naturally release from the skin. It's been my 'super-butterfly-bandage' for years, but have never tried this on any bird.
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Thanks everyone for your input, especially cowcreekgeek. When I got home from work and saw our hen I knew it was way beyond anything I coudl handle. She had six to seven lacerations from the base of neck down her back to and around her butt, plus some puncture wounds on her sides; some were wide open flesh. On the drive home I made some calls to feed stores and got a number for an avian vet. Ended up she was our hens angel. After a 1.5 hour drive to her lab, she took care of her like it was her own child; numbing her up, flushing with iodine, sterile rinses, and sewed her up. She also located a large flap of skin that was hanging under the feathers that covered the big open fleshy spot I saw. She did an amazing job and our hen seems like she will recover fine. She is drinking water (200mg ibuprofen/2 cups water for 6 days) and eating laying food and scratch, so we are thrilled. We have to give her two antiobotics orally for 12 days and were told we can introduce her back to the flock after that. She got about 80 stiches in all (we watched them all), and her back looks like a quilt or something. She will live in our laundry room until we ger her back out there. BTW, it was not our neighbors fault. Our chickens crossed the street and entered our neighbors yard. We just moved here and have not finished our coop/run, so they are free range on our acre of land in the daytime. The run will be finished this weekend!! Thanks again, I'll post a picture soon. Charlie & Mitsuyo
Wow! This post is SO reassuring. I'm in the same boat (well, my chicken is...) with a dog attack. One of my questions is, when do I take the hospital cage back out to the coop? The coop is insulated, but it's not as warm as it is in the house (I'm in MN and the air temps at night are about 25 degrees.) It's probably in the 40s inside the coop.

I want her to be near her flock mates, and I think she does too, but I don't want to risk her health. The attack happened three days ago. Her wounds appear to be healing, from what I can see.


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