Handling an Injured Dog: Basic Care

Accidents happen. Should your dog suffer an injury, he’ll not only be in pain, but most likely will also be afraid and confused. Your pet might bite or scratch if not handled with care. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers this advice for a dog owner whose pet has been injured:

  • Never assume that even the gentlest pet will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
  • Don't attempt to hug an injured dog, and always keep your face away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse to comfort your pet, it might only scare the animal or cause them pain.
  • Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your animal becomes more agitated.
  • Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic before you move your dog so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
  • If necessary and if your dog is not vomiting, place a muzzle on him to reduce the chances you'll be bitten. Dogs may be muzzled with towels, stockings or gauze rolls. Never muzzle dog if he is vomiting.
  • If possible, try to stabilize injuries before moving an injured dog by splinting or bandaging him.
  • While transporting your injured dog, keep him confined in a small area to reduce the risk of additional injury. Pet carriers work well, or you can use a box or other container (but make sure your pet has enough air). For larger dogs, you can use a board, toboggan/sled, door, throw rug, blanket or something similar to act as a stretcher.
  • You should always keep your dog’s medical records in a safe, easily accessible place. Bring these with you when you take your dog for emergency treatment.

Any first aid you administer to your dog should be followed by immediate veterinary care.