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How to Help an Injured Pet

Pet owners should always know the basics of how to help an injured pet whether it be their own pet or someone else’s. They should also have a first-aid kit for pets on hand.

With that said, let’s dive right in, shall we?

The first step is approaching an injured animal. This should always be done with caution whether it is your own pet or not.

The only safety net of approaching your own pet is that you know if the pet is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.

Nothing should be taken for granted. Any injured animal or animal in pain (pet or not) may be confused and react negatively to your assistance.

How to Help an Injured Pet

Sometimes people are warier around larger pets such as a large dog. However, it must be noted that approaching an unfamiliar small pet can be equally risky.

While the small pet may do less damage than a larger one, many small pets are not properly socialized to accept strangers and may be more fearful.

In a case where the pet is not yours, the first thing should be to try to find an owner. Approach the nearest house and inquire if the pet is theirs.

Alternatively, phone the local animal control to see if such a pet has been reported missing. If an owner can be found and can come immediately that is ideal.

Moving the Injured Pet to Safety

If the pet is in a high-risk area such as on a busy road, call the police immediately.

Have somebody else direct traffic. Then, approach the pet in a way that you, yourself, will be safe, and that if the pet tries to move, it will move away from traffic.

Approaching an Injured Dog or Cat

Let us assume no owner can be found, or that it is your pet.

Approach the pet slowly and in a non-threatening way. Bend over so you are lower, and speak to the animal in soft tones.

Do not approach it head-on, rather approach it from the side if you can.

Go slow and be patient.

People who are not experienced with pets should not try this at all. It will take the ability to read the pet’s body language in order to assure safety.

Of course, the pet will be scared!

Is the pet feeling threatened?

Is the pet getting defensive?

Be prepared to slow down or back off if the pet is showing any signs of aggression, such as snarling, growling, or putting its ears back.

If you have a leash, run the end of the leash through the handle to make a hoop that you can use to control the pet.

If the pet is approachable dangle the loop in front of the pet’s head and then over the head so it rests around the neck and can be tightened.

For safety, you may want to toss a jacket over the pet’s head before trying to move it.

Depending on the injury the pet may try to bite out of pain, or fear.

Dog bites are common when a pet is in pain.

If you have another person to help with the pet that is the best.

Bigger pets may be difficult to lift, and if one person can hold the leash, the other person is a good deal safer.

A makeshift muzzle out of gauze being put on a dog.

Assessing the Injuries

Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your animal becomes more agitated.

It is best to try and keep them calm and safe.

If the animal is becoming agitated or acting aggressively, you should muzzle the pet.

Understandably, most people do not travel with or have a muzzle. However, you can create a makeshift muzzle with wrappings like towels, stockings, or gauze rolls from a first-aid kit.

With a muzzle in place, it greatly reduces the risk of being bitten.

However, it is very important to NOT muzzle an animal that is vomiting or having respiratory problems!

Checking the dog for injuries must be approached with caution.

Attempt to stabilize the injuries of an injured animal before relocating them, if feasible, by applying splints or a bandage.

If the injured animal has suffered an injury to her head, neck, or back it is important to avoid moving them to avoid additional injury.

It is important to remember that first aid on animals should be followed up by professional veterinary care.

While first aid is beneficial, it cannot replace professional medical treatment. It may help save your pet’s life but it is critical they receive professional medical attention.

For Minor Injuries

With minor injuries, such as a cut or scrape, you can administer first aid by cleaning it with warm water and mild soap.

If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure to stop the bleeding.

If the wound is large or bleeding cannot be stopped, the cut or laceration may need sutures.

Even if the wounds are minor if the animal has been hit by a car it should be seen by a veterinarian.

It could have internal injuries that are not readily obvious.

Woman lifting small injured dog to transport to vet.

Transporting the Injured Pet

From here things have so many variables.

If the pet is yours you will want to get it to a veterinary clinic or veterinary hospital.

If it is not yours, you will probably need to phone the local animal shelter or humane society.

They will instruct you to either bring it to them or to a specific veterinarian. Shelters often pay for veterinary care on injured stray animals, which will dictate which vet that will be.

If there is an animal control officer en route (if you called one earlier or the police are coming to get the pet) you may just want to move it over to the side of the road.

Points to Remember

Never rush, it will scare the pet and may make the situation worse.

If the pet is on the road keep yourself safe first and foremost.

Big pets have strong bites, but small nervous pets are very prone to biting.

Call for help, local animal control, or your local shelter should be called first if the pet is not yours.

If you caused injury to the pet as a result of hitting it with your car, staying to help it is the RIGHT thing to do.

In many cases, you are not liable for emergency veterinary treatment expenses for an injured animal, unless, of course, it is your own pet.

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