Pet Emergencies: How to Transport a Badly Injured Pet

injured pet: A Woman Helps An Injured Dog In Front Of A Car

When a pet is seriously injured, it is critical to reach a vet as quickly as possible for emergency care. Having the number to your local vet, as well as emergency contacts for after-hours veterinary care, is important. It is also important to know how to lift and transport an injured pet safely and without worsening the injuries.

First Steps in an Emergency

The most common serious injuries requiring immediate transport and care are being hit by a car and fights between animals. Some animals are also prone to reckless behavior, such as trying to jump off a high wall and dislocating a major joint. When responding to an emergency situation, the first step is to make sure the environment is safe. Everything will be worse if the responding helpers are also hurt by fire, downed power lines, an aggressive animal, weapons, or other concerns. For any people hurt in an accident or emergency, call 911 and report the situation. That will bring first responders who have equipment and training to manage the environment and provide emergency care to the people who are hurt or injured.

If a pet has been hit by a car, it is important to have some help to divert traffic while emergency transport is arranged. Bystanders or people nearby can be asked to help; but it’s important to not run into the road to rescue an injured pet without a way to divert traffic. Everything will be made worse if the rescuer is also hit or injured in the roadway. It takes a bit of time to carefully and safely manage to wrap and move an injured animal, so even if the road is clear while starting emergency care, drivers coming upon a scene may not be able to see a person crouched down over an injured pet. Try to find help with diverting traffic.

Avoid Further Injury

Contact the emergency vet number and make sure there will be someone available after transport to care for the animal.

Our natural tendency when faced with a pet in pain is to get close and speak soothingly; to let the animal see our face. This doesn’t always work for the best with badly hurt animals. When both frightened and in pain, the animal may not be able to recognize our voice or touch; the most common response is to lash out at anyone seen as dangerous. Never assume you can calm or comfort a pet who is in pain or badly injured immediately after the injury.

What does help is swaddling the animal with a blanket or towel to prevent movement and further injury. By wrapping a towel or blanket around the animal, you can hold injured bones and joints still, help staunch bleeding, and use the edges to carry the animal safely. If you can wrap the blanket or towel around the head, as well as the body, any natural tendency to lash out and bite can also be reduced.

In addition to wrapping in a towel or blanket, you can lift the injured pet into a cardboard box with high sides or a carrier. This may allow you to move the injured pet without touching or jostling a painful injury, such as a laceration or broken bone. With either of these ways, however, the initial move onto the blanket or box will he painful.

How to Use a Blanket Carry

There is no way to move and transport a badly injured pet without causing more pain while wrapping and carrying. However, there are ways to reduce the pain. First, avoid putting your face near the animal to speak to it or try to soothe. While this natural inclination works with children and babies, animals may lash out in pain and fear. A second person can also help.

If the animal is lashing out, a towel draped over the head can reduce danger. There is disagreement over attempting to muzzle a dog prior to moving. One should never attempt to muzzle if the animal is out of control, if he is bleeding from the mouth or vomiting, or if he is having trouble breathing. Some experts recommend a pair of nylon stockings as an easy to use elastic muzzle. If you have any concerns about trying to muzzle an animal that is lashing out, don’t try. Wrap a towel over the head and swaddle with a larger towel or blanket.

If a large dog is badly injured and unable to move, place the towel over the head and a blanket down on the road next to the dog. With another person, lift the dog onto the blanket by one person holding under the shoulders and one under the hips. Lift just enough to slide onto the blanket and then wrap the edges of the blanket around so the dog can’t move.

It will hurt, and the dog will likely cry out, but a towel over the head and face can reduce some of the stress. Lift the blanket by all four corners, or if there is a second person to help, take two corners each and use the blanket like a sling to carry the animal. Lay in the backseat of the car if available. The back of a pickup truck is an option if no car is available for transport. But that ride will be more challenging. Do not attempt to hold the animal in your arms, unless a small cat or dog can be completely swaddled. They will be able to breathe, but the jostling may be more painful than lying still on a seat.

For a cat or small dog, lay a towel over the top, then tuck it around their sides before lifting them onto another blanket or towel. Use the two towels together to provide firm swaddling for the body. This will help reduce bleeding and also stabilize injured bones and joints.

What About Injured Wild Animals?

Our natural inclination, on finding an injured wild animal, is to try to save it. The challenge, however, is that many wild animals are more dangerous to care for and move than domesticated pets. In addition, vets may not have the ability to properly care for and board wild animals during recovery. If you find an injured wild animal, contact the emergency vet and ask for next steps.  They may suggest contacting animal control, who have both the training and equipment to manage a badly injured wild animal. They may also be familiar with local sanctuaries and other organizations who have expertise. Never take a wild animal into your home and attempt to care for them without help.

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Ashley Farrer
Ashley Farrer
posted 1 month ago

Honestly they were wonderful, they were very nice and caring and took very good care of my baby. They also made sure I understood what was going on. Even after everything they let me call and answered any questions or concerns that I had until I felt better as well.

Donna Hughes
Donna Hughes
posted 2 weeks ago

They are the best when it comes to taking care of our furry babies =)
Great customer service and they are wonderful with both our dogs and cat. Thank you all
For the hugs, belly rubbs, and loving our fur family. We moved 3 years ago yet we will continue the 45 minute drive for this kind of family friendly service.

Judy Bayes
Judy Bayes
posted 4 months ago

Highly recommend!!!
Annie, my Golden Retriever Mix, is not a patient there, but got both her Flu vaccines at Tipp City Vet.
The First one, was at their drive up clinic and the second one at their office.
Both were fantastic experiences! The staff (Dr Jim Mathias, the Vet Techs, and Front office) were all super friendly, professional, and great with Annie! And they were very accommodating too, as I had to change my appointment a few times, in order to fit my ever changing schedule.
If I didn’t already have a vet that I love, and am very loyal to; I would definitely make the 30 minute drive to their office!

Mike Quakenbush
Mike Quakenbush
posted 3 months ago

Always happy with the staff. Lots of space so the pets can have their own space. The most honest Dr.s ever. These people truly care, they aren’t just trying to make money off of you. They want what’s best for your pet.

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