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Moving an Injured Pet

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 23 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Moving Injured Pet Transporting Injured

When you come upon a pet that is injured, it is natural to panic and want to rush your pet to the veterinarian. However, it is vital to know how to transport your injured pet safely, to prevent further injury and improve its chances of survival and recovery.

Firstly, always check the scenario and make sure you avoid injury to yourself, such as from falling overhead objects, electric sources or oncoming traffic. Before moving any animals, check the state of their injuries: Is the animal conscious? Is it breathing? Is it bleeding heavily? If your pet has stopped breathing and is unconscious, try nose-to-mouth resuscitation by pinching the lips to seal them shut and then blowing into the nose to ventilate the lungs. If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound, using either a clean towel or convenient item of clothing.

Note, however, that it may be dangerous to attempt first-aid with a conscious animal in severe pain - even the most friendly and gentle-natured pet will behave differently when in pain and suffering from shock and panic. Covering the animal's head and eyes with a towel or blanket can help to calm it.

Dogs

  • Always muzzle a dog - even a gentle and friendly one. Severe pain, shock and fear can cause even the best-natured animal to bite and many will not even recognise a familiar face when in panic. If you do not have a muzzle handy, you can create a make-shift one quickly and easily using a long strip of gauze tape (or ribbon, scarf, rope, leash - improvise as necessary) which is looped and slid over the dog's muzzle or nose, then looped again and tied behind the ears.

  • Note - however, do not muzzle a dog which is suffering from cardiac or respiratory arrest or is unconscious from electrocution or drowning - apply the correct treatment for these conditions first.

  • To move a dog, gently lift it - supporting as much of its body as possible - onto a stiff board-like surface. If no board is available, use a blanket or coat. It is advisable to have help but if you are alone, position the board or blanket along the dog's back, firmly grasp the skin over the neck and hips and pull the dog onto the board.

  • Use this board or blanket as a stretcher to transport the dog to the vet. You may need to use a belt or rope to secure the animal. Pillows, towels or rolled blankets wedged around the dog can also prevent unnecessary jarring during transport. It's important to prevent movement of the spine, neck, or a fractured limb on the way to the clinic but leave the technical bandaging and splinting of any broken limbs to the veterinarian.

  • Keep the dog warm with a blanket or towel and keep its body as still as possible during transportation.

    Cats

    • To pick up a cat, grasp it firmly by the nape of the neck (the loose skin, at the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades). Many cats will automatically relax when held this way as this was the way they were carried by their mothers as kittens.

    • Place the cat in a cat carrier or a well-ventilated box. If no such carrier is available, use a blanket, towel or piece of clothing and wrap the cat firmly, leaving the head and neck exposed.

    • Keep the cat warm and its body as still as possible during transportation.

    Birds and Small Animals

    • Smaller animals and birds suffer easily from shock, so it is important to keep them calm, warm and quiet - and as still as possible during transportation.

    • Always transport them in a secure, well-ventilated container - never try to just restrain them by carrying them in your arms. Rabbits, for example, even when seriously injured, can kick frantically and this can break their backs. If a container is not available, wrap the animal up securely in a blanket, towel or sheet.

    • Birds - especially small species - have to be handled extremely carefully. If possible, leave them in their cage and transport the entire cage to the vet. If they are loose, use a sheet to capture them gently, being especially careful not to damage the feathers, then transfer them to a cardboard box. Unwrap them from the sheet as soon as they are in the box as birds can overheat and die very easily, especially in warm weather.

    • Similarly, transport small mammals in their cage or enclosure whenever possible. If you need to capture them, carefully place a box over them, then slide a piece of cardboard underneath the box to contain them.

    In all instances, talking to an animal softly in a soothing tone of voice can help to calm and reassure it on its way to the veterinary surgery. For the smaller animals, covering their cage with a sheet or towel and keeping them in the dark can also help to calm them, thus preventing them from struggling or trying to escape which may cause further injury to themselves.

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