It would be quite natural for owners to panic if they see that their pet dog is injured. The first reaction would be to rush to the side of the pet. Often times this action have caused more harm not only to the dog but to the owner as well. Immediate appropriate action may save the dog from further injury and increase the pet’s chance to recover and survive.
Before rushing to the side of the injured dog make sure to avoid harming yourself by checking the scene of the injury. Good Samaritans would often hurt themselves by getting to the side of an injured dog. If the dog was hurt due to a vehicular accident, check oncoming traffic first. Always check the scenario. Falling objects as well as electric sources that caused the dog’s injuries can hurt you too.
Before checking the dog for injuries you have to muzzle the dog first. This is necessary not only for strange dogs but also for pets. You may think that because the dog is your pet, muzzling is not necessary. An injured dog, even one that is good natured can bite. Dogs suffering from severe pain can not recognize familiar faces.
If no muzzle is available you can fashion one by using a scarf, gauze, a rope or the dog’s leash. Make a loop and slide the improvised muzzle to the dog’s nose. Loop again around the dog’s muzzle but make sure not to bind it tightly. Tie the muzzle behind the ears or on top of the dog’s nose. It is important to note that a dog suffering from cardiac arrest or one that is unconscious due to drowning or electrocution should not be muzzled.
Before you move the dog check the injuries first and do the necessary first aid. If the dog is unconscious and has stopped breathing, do the nose to mouth resuscitation. Pinch the lips and blow into the nose. This will ventilate the lungs. If the dog is bleeding, use a clean cloth or towel to apply pressure to the wound to stem the flow of blood.
Calm a conscious dog by covering the head with a towel or a blanket. A blanket will also ensure that less heat will be lost. Lift the dog gently. Ensure that movement is minimized as rough handling can compound internal injuries, and create more damage to the tissues. If the dog is unable to get up it may be suffering from spinal injuries. Use a stiff board or a piece of plywood to minimize movement. The dog’s body must be supported as much as possible to prevent more damage to the nerves. Gently slide the dog into the board by firmly grasping the skin at the back of the neck and hips. Pillows and rolled towels placed around the dog will prevent jarring movements. The dog may also be tied or taped to the board with a belt or a rope. However, it is not advisable to tie a struggling dog as further damage could result.
If a stiff board is not available, a towel, a blanket and even a coat can be use as a makeshift stretcher. Place the coat against the dog’s back. Gently slide the dog to the makeshift stretcher by pulling the skin at the back of the dog’s neck and the skin over the dog’s back. Take care not to put pressure on the stomach of the dog. This is most important if the dog is vomiting or having breathing difficulties. Roll the edge of the blanket to get a better grip and lift it to the vehicle. Two persons are usually needed for this task. A blanket used as a makeshift stretcher is only advisable if it is apparent that the dog has not sustained a back injury.
If the dog is unconscious ensure that the head is normally aligned with the body. If the head is abnormally flexed downward or very much extended upwards, serious damage could result due to improper blood drainage to the brain.
A dog that has sustained severe head injuries are likely to vomit even if they are unconscious. In such cases, the head must be lower than the level of the dog’s heart. This is to ensure that the dog will not aspirate. The vomit will be allowed to flow out of the mouth and not into the windpipe and lungs.
Needless to say, an injured dog would need to be rushed to a vet to be attended to at once. However, knowing the proper way of moving an injured dog would not only mean greater chance of survival and recovery for the dog but safety for the owner as well.