Take great care when lifting and transporting an injured pet. Rough handling can cause further damage and is painful. If necessary, protect yourself by muzzling the dog. Wrap small dogs and cats in a bulky blanket. An ironing board or removable shelving makes a useful temporary stretcher for bigger dogs. Secure your dog to the stretcher with neckties, torn sheeting or rope. If you are bitten, get medical attention for your wounds. Don’t use a muzzle on a dog that is vomiting, convulsing, has swallowed poison or has obvious mouth or jaw injuries.
If bone protrudes from an open wound cover it with a clean dressing such as torn sheet. Do not put any ointment or cleanser on the wound . It can make matters worse. Do not try to straighten a broken limb. Splint it in the position you find it in.
- Place rigid material such as rolled newspaper or magazines, smooth sticks such as garden cane or with small dogs pencils or pens on both sides of the broken bone.
- Wrap gently with cloth strips or wide tape. Do not wrap tightly. Circulation can be cut.
- Transport to us immediately checking circulation by feeling the temperature of the toes. If they are cold the splint may be too tight. POOR SPLINTING CAN MAKE AN INJURY CONSIDERABLY WORSE.
Use a tourniquet only if absolutely necessary
Applied properly, a tourniquet will stop life-threatening bleeding but applied improperly it is a very dangerous item. Only use a tourniquet on a leg if there is profuse and devastating bleeding that cannot be controlled by direct pressure.
- Wrap a tie or strip of torn sheet above the bleeding wound and tie it with a releasable knot.
- Slip a pen, pencil or stick into the knot and twist until bleeding stops. *Hold or tie this down in place while you get immediate veterinary attention. It should be applied for no more than 10 minutes.
A tourniquet cuts off the blood supply and can lead to the loss of the entire limb. If your dog is bitten by an adder, do not use a tourniquet. It will only increase inflammation. Instead, immobilise the bitten area with a splint and get urgent veterinary attention. Vets outside London often stock adder anti-venom
When a pet can’t move itself
Critical injuries include all those in which the pet cannot move itself, and obvious serious injuries such as fractures or paralysis. Take extreme care when lifting a pet with potentially serious physical injuries. If the chest is injured and legs broken, the injured chest takes priority.
- support the back
- keep broken legs up
- keep injured chests down (and the best lung up)
- let the pet find its own comfortable position for breathing
- Keep the injured dog’s back towards you.
- Slip one hand under the dog’s chest and the other under its rump. Gently pull it on to the stretcher. An ironing board is useful for large dogs but with any board make sure it fits in your car. Removable shelving makes a useful stretcher.
- If additional help is not available tie the dog to the stretcher. Place ropes or strips of cloth under the stretcher before sliding the dog on, then tie the dog to the board. Do not tie its neck down.
- If a board is not available slide the dog onto a blanket or large towel. Wrap the blanket round and use this to support the dog. Supporting both the front and rear of the body, the small dog is lifted and pulled onto the folded blanket. The blanket is wrapped and the dog lifted by grasping the blanket as close to the dog as possible.
- Put a small dog or cat in a box or use the wrapped blanket for support while carrying it to the car. Two people are needed to carry a large dog on a board or blanket. In the car, rest the dog with its back against the seat.
- Restrain the dog during transport to the vet. If someone is not available to sit with the injured dog pack pillows and blankets around it. Cover it with a blanket to conserve heat and reduce the risk of shock. In cold weather turn on your car heater to keep the dog warm.
IF SERIOUS INJURIES ARE PRESENT, DON’T WASTE TIME LOOKING FOR ITEMS OF SUPPORT. GET TO THE VETERINARY CLINIC AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE BUT AVOID SUDDEN MOVEMENTS THAT MAY CAUSE FURTHER INJURIES.
WHEN LIFTING AND TRANSPORTING AN INJURED PET AVOID BENDING OR TWISTING ITS BODY.
Less critical injuries
Small dogs and cats
- If an injured dog is willing to walk to the car let it do so.
- Lift a small dog or cat by holding its collar or neck with one hand while using the other to support its back and body.
- Cradle the pet against your body and with your hand under the chest lift it up.
- Place one arm around the dog’s neck and draw it towards you.
- Place your other arm under the dog’s groin and draw it’s body to you.
- Keeping your back straight, lift the dog by standing straight up. This protects your back and reduces wriggling.
- Slip one arm under the dog’s neck around the foreleg on the far side. Make sure you do not interfere with breathing.
- Slip the crook of your other arm under the dog’s rump, firmly grasping the far rear leg.
- Press your arms towards each other and draw the dog close to you then with your back straight stand up using your leg muscles to support the dog’s weight.
Always contact us when your dog has been in any type of accident even if the condition seems mild or inconsequential or responds immediately to your emergency care. What may appear no more than frightening, for example a seemingly minor bump from a car, can quickly turn into a life-threatening emergency. Never underestimate internal damage and the dangers of clinical shock. A prudent veterinary examination is a real life-saver.