If your pet experience severe trauma (hit by car, animal attack, or severe/multiple injuries) and/or is profusely bleeding from any wound, these are considered “RED” – or true emergencies – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!
If your pet becomes injured from a traumatic event, like being attacked by another animal, hit by a car, or falling, things can happen fast and feel like a whirlwind. While we know it’s easier said than done, it is important to stay calm and act quickly to help your pet.
Here are a few tips to remember if the unthinkable happens:
1. Contact Your Local Animal ER
- First, as soon as possible after the traumatic event, contact your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital. The veterinary staff can help make recommendations for basic first aid and how to safely transport your pet to the veterinary hospital based on your pet’s injuries.
2. Protect Yourself
- Even the friendliest pets can lash out and bite when they are in pain. Always protect yourself by carefully putting a towel or blanket over your pet when picking them up for transport. The towel or blanket should be used over the pet’s head, neck, and body, and then used to gently lift the pet, being careful not to manipulate injured areas.
3. Stop the Bleeding
- Certain types of bleeding need to be addressed before rushing to the ER. If the bleeding is pulsing or squirting, pressure should be immediately applied to the area with a towel or piece of clothing. If the compress gets soaked, do not remove it! Instead, put another compress on top of it. If the wound is on a limb, you can tie a belt or strip of cloth at the top of the limb tightly as a tourniquet – but DO NOT cut off the blood supply for more than 5-10 minutes!
- Compression can also be used in wounds that are not pulsing or squirting blood. If the wound is on a leg or foot, you can put gauze over it and a wrap or bandage – but don’t put it on too tightly!
- Find more first aid tips here.
4. Transport Safely
- If you are worried that your pet experienced a head or spine injury, be very gentle when moving them. The pet should be placed on a flat object (such as a sled, piece of plywood, or ironing board) for transport. If your pet has or may have a head injury, it can be helpful to keep their head slightly elevated on a small pillow or towel.
- During transport, keep your pet in a safe area such as a crate or kennel to avoid them moving around the vehicle.
- If able, have a second person come along to sit with your pet and watch them.
5. Be Prepared BEFORE an Emergency
- We recommend putting together a pet first aid kit and keeping it fully stocked.
- Don’t wait until an emergency to research your nearest animal emergency hospital! Instead, know beforehand exactly where to go and save the hospital’s number in your phone. You should also practice driving to your local animal ERs at least once, so you know how to quickly get there in a real emergency.
We hope you won’t ever have to utilize these tips, but the best thing you can do during an emergency with your pet is to stay calm and be prepared for the “just in case!”
- First Aid Kits for Pets
- Fur-Tunately: Stories of Animal Survival | Episode VI: Every Small Dog Owner’s Greatest Fear
- Fur-Tunately: Stories of Animal Survival | Episode XIII: Milo the Miracle Dog
- My Dog Was Hit By a Car: What Should I Do Next?
- The Dark Side of Dog Parks: Bite Wounds in Dogs