Few aspects of pet ownership are as stressful as transporting an injured dog to the hospital. Whether your pup has been hit by a car, attacked by another animal, or has eaten something harmful, providing him with immediate medical care is crucial for a good prognosis. Getting him to the hospital, however, is easier said than done. Avoid these five common mistakes pet owners often make.
1. Comforting Your Pet
If your dog is hurt, you may feel the urge to cradle him tightly. However, the best way to comfort an injured dog is to handle him as little as possible. Sit calmly next to your pet and avoid stimulating interactions, such as hugging, that may make him uncomfortable. Speak to your dog in a soothing and peaceful voice.
2. Improper Restraint
Dogs don’t always understand that we are trying to help them. Approach an injured pet carefully from the side and not close to the mouth. Normally docile, even-tempered dogs may bite under extreme circumstances, such as when they suffer a serious injury, and moving an injured dog or manipulating injured limbs can cause your dog pain. Keep yourself and your dog safe by gently muzzling him with gauze or the muzzle in your canine first aid kit. Make a temporary restraint out of a thick towel or blanket to prevent your dog from hurting himself or others.
While it is impossible to mentally prepare for a serious injury, planning ahead will save you time and stress. Every dog owner needs a canine first aid kit. Your kit should contain, among other things, a spare leash and a muzzle, and you may also want to include a towel or a sling, especially if your dog is predisposed to spinal injuries. Towels can also be used to stop bleeding and as a form of restraint in emergencies.
4. Lifting Injured Dogs
The biggest problem pet owners face when transporting injured dogs is figuring out how to get their canine companions into the car. Small dogs can easily be placed into carriers or boxes for safe transport, but large dogs are harder to move.
The easiest and safest way to move an injured large dog is to use a stretcher of some sort. Any firm, flat object, even a wide wood board, can be used if the dog can be secured safely. Avoid twisting the dog’s neck and/or back. The head should ideally be held approximately 30 percent higher than the rear. Call your veterinarian or local emergency vet for advice about how best to move your dog, depending on your circumstances. If you suspect a spinal injury, securely fasten your dog to a stretcher.
5. Arriving Unannounced
Time is of the essence when it comes to serious injuries. Call ahead to the veterinary hospital to let someone know you are coming, as well as the state of your dog’s injuries. This ensures that a veterinary team member will be available to meet you with a stretcher or any necessary equipment to make transporting your dog from the car to the hospital safer.