What to Do in a Pet Emergency

1. Keep calm and try not to panic. Assess the scene for any additional threats to you or your pet. This is important for everyone’s safety.

2. Keep your pet warm and as still and quiet as possible. Keep movement to a minimum, especially if there are neurological symptoms, broken bones, or any chance of a spinal injury.

3. Call and let us know you are on your way so we may prepare for your arrival. Explain what has happened and follow the specific advice given.

4. To safely move or transport an injured dog or cat, get somebody to help you. For a small dog or cat, put it into its carrier (remove the top for easy and safe access to the carrier; don’t push an injured dog through the small door or opening), or use a suitable container such as a strong cardboard box. For a larger dog, use a makeshift stretcher made out of some rigid material such as an appropriate sized, sturdy piece of wood. Carefully maneuver the dog onto a blanket or coat so that it can be gently moved to the carrier, box, or stretcher. The blanket will help stabilize the neck and spine, and prevent inadvertent biting or scratching from the injured pet.

Proper Restraint for an Injured Pet

The majority of injured pets will be panicked, disoriented or painful. The stress of an emergency involving a pet can cause an otherwise friendly dog or cat to act aggressively. Although most panicky dogs and cats respond to a calm, soothing voice and stroking of the head and shoulders, it is important to maintain your safety by using caution when approaching or touching an injured pet.

Dog Muzzles: you can create a muzzle out of a leash, belt, rope or pair of pantyhose or tights. Make a loop in the cord and lasso it around the muzzle, tightening it to prevent the animal from biting. Dogs have only one muscle to open their jaw so once the jaw is closed, it is relatively easy to hold it safely shut. Don’t worry, dogs can easily breathe through their nostrils unless their nose is injured or obstructed.

Cat Muzzles: muzzles can be difficult to put onto a cat, due to the shape of most cats’ faces. There are specific muzzles designed for use in cats, but they are rarely handy when an emergency strikes! For some cats, it may be possible to loop an improvised muzzle made from a piece of rope or a pair of pantyhose around the cat’s head to prevent it from biting. If you can safely get the jaw closed, it is relatively easy to keep it closed because cats only have one muscle to open their jaw. If not, you can drape a towel over the cat’s head to provide some measure of protection.

Wrap your cat or dog snugly in a blanket to minimize movement during transportation. Be very cautious of doing this if there is a possibility of broken bones or spinal injury. If you suspect a spinal injury or broken bone, lay your pet on a board and immobilize it with straps or cords. Pay special attention to immobilizing the head and neck.