A Veterinarian's Advice on Things to Remember When Handling an Injured Pet

first aid given to a cute dog

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Accidents happen. It can happen to a human or to your beloved furry friend. The most important thing to remember, in those first few crucial moments is to NOT panic

You must also remember that at this time they are scared and no matter how friendly or gentle your pet is usually, you must approach them with caution so as to not alert them and avoid getting scratched or bitten. 

Let’s start by understanding the best ways to approach an injured pet, to keep yourself safe while at the same time getting help to them as soon as possible. 

  1. Do not startle the pet, be gentle and soft as you approach them. 
  2. Check your surroundings to make sure there isn’t another cat or dog; this might effectively push your pet into a more protective bubble, thus causing aggressive behaviour. 
  3. Do not make direct eye contact, as this can be perceived as ‘threatening’ by your pet, both cats and dogs. 
  4. Keep your face away from the pet’s mouth. If you can, wear oven mitts so as to make sure that in case your pet bites you, you are not significantly hurt. 
  5. If your pet is not in an extremely critical condition, offer them small treats as a sign that you come in peace. 
  6. If your pet is not vomiting, but being aggressive, try to put their mouth into a muzzle. 
  7. Speak to them in a calm and confident, soothing voice. Don’t scream or raise your voice as that might agitate them more.
  8. Perform an examination to assess the seriousness of the injury slowly and contact your veterinarian immediately. 
  9. If your pet is bleeding, make sure to contain the injury before you move them: start with cleaning the area, removing the hair clipping around and then applying a temporary bandage on the wound. However, if the pet starts to get irritated and act up, you must immediately stop the examination.
  10. You can also cover the pet with a soft towel to comfort them and/or preserve body heat. 

Now that you are with your pet and understand the gravity of the situation, you must prepare to safely transport them to a veterinary clinic

  1. If your pet weighs more than 15 kgs (33 lbs), do not try to pick them up alone. Call a friend, family member, or neighbour to assist you, to prevent hurting the pet further. 
  2. You can provide support to their head, neck and back by placing one arm under their head and shoulders and another arm under their pelvis.
  3. Slowly and carefully, lift your pet onto a large towel, blanket or board. You can also use a large coat or jumper, but make sure that it is strong enough to take the entirety of your pet's weight and is comfortable for them. 
  4. Check the shortest (and safest) route to the clinic.
  5. Hold the four corners of the blanket, board or towel, bend your knees and lift them.
  6. When you’re walking, walk slowly and be careful not to jolt them. 
  7. It is best to phone on the way to inform the clinic of your situation and make sure that they are ready for your arrival. This would ensure that you do not lose any precious time. 

The above instructions can also be applied to stray animals that you come upon who have suffered an injury. Remember that with strays or ferals, the chances of you contracting deadly diseases such as rabies, etc. from them are higher. If the injured animal is gentle and does not show aggressive behaviour, you can safely (keeping the above points in mind) approach them, however, if they are aggressive and/or agitated, they are more likely to attack and it is a safer option for you to call professional help of your local rescue agencies or veterinarians to help them.