What is Healing?
Healing is an ability possessed by the animal body to repair damaged parts – this process is sometimes visible (a wound improves) or microscopic (damaged cells are replaced) but both occur on a daily basis, and are given the term: regeneration.
In the animal kingdom – a starfish can rebuild a new tentacle that is cut off, an earthworm can replace much of its body that is lost, and a crab can rebuild a new claw when one is lost. Our pets may not possess those exact characteristics, but they do have healing ability…
An animal’s skin is a wonderful example of regeneration. It is constantly shedding old skin and regenerating new skin cells. Bones, muscles and some nerve fibers can grow to repair themselves. Like a machine, the animal body can make minor repairs. All wounds heal using the same intrinsic process. There are three phases of wound healing: the inflammatory, fibroblastic, and maturation stages.
If we take a simple laceration or cut, inflammation begins after injury and the wound site swells as the biochemical ingredients needed for healing gather: leukocytes and monocytes fibrinogen, histamine, prostaglandins, and vasoactive substances. A great deal happens during this stage – it must occur to prepare the wound for the succeeding phases of healing. In fact, conventional drugs that limit inflammation such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s) will slow the healing of a wound!
Next, fibroblasts begin to proliferate and position themselves for collagen synthesis. As collagen content increases, the wound site strengthens. The third and final stage of wound healing lasts the longest. This maturation, or remodeling phase, may continue for weeks or several years (depending on the severity of the injury), with gradual improvements in wound appearance.
Remember that your pet cannot vocalize pain or discomfort, as we are able to. They may whimper or meow when unsettled and may even lose their appetite or vomit when they have had a procedure. After operations or surgical procedures, an animal’s body may take time to adjust and achieve the harmonious balance it had before and gradual healing should be supported. Let your pet take the time to recover and follow your vet’s advice.