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The case records of 20 dogs and 5 cats that were managed by open peritoneal drainage for generalized peritonitis were reviewed. Although the underlying causes varied, diffuse septic peritonitis was present in all animals. The abdominal incision was closed loosely at the time of the first surgical procedure, and a sterile abdominal wrap was maintained throughout the postoperative period. The abdomen was closed completely in a second surgical procedure performed 2 to 9 days later.

The overall mortality rate was 48%. Most deaths occurred before secondary closure of the abdomen was performed. Complications of open peritoneal drainage were hypopro-teinemia and nosocomial contamination.