Sunday, August 12, 2012


Most dog and cat owners have gone through the unfortunate experience of either seeing their pet be injured in some way or finding them injured after the fact.  Even though dogs and cats are usually quite agile, they still seem to be able to get into trouble pretty easily.  If you find that your pet has become injured in some way, what would you do?  How would you handle the pet in order to determine what type of injury has occurred and perhaps how serious it might be?  If you felt the injury needed some medical attention, how would you get the pet to your veterinarian? injured cat in the making?
These are all legitimate questions and it would serve a pet owner well to have an idea ahead of time what one should do in those circumstances.

Let's take a look at some examples of what kinds of situations can lead to pet injuries, how to determine the seriousness of an injury, how to properly handle your dog or cat if it is injured, and tips for transporting the injured pet to the veterinary hospital.
Tips on Care for an Injured Dog
Just as people do in the course of a day, dogs can injure themselves. Sometimes this results from a tumble when running up or down the stairs, jumping down from your bed, otherwise harmless frolicking with your other pets, being in a fight with another dog or cat, trying to jump out of a vehicle or it can be more serious, such as being hit by a car.
Many traffic accidents involving dogs, both minor and severe, could have been prevented by a pet owner exercising more proper control of their pet. Be sure that your dog is well trained and preferably always under the control of a reasonable person with a leash when he is being walked outside, especially when being walked near a busy road.

If for some reason an accident does occur and your dog experiences any of these misfortunes, do not panic. Keep your emotions in check and use common sense. Your dog is still very much at risk for further injury, so be extremely careful when moving him out of further danger.

Warning: A dog that is badly injured may bite you if he is in shock or severe pain. This holds true even if he belongs to you and knows you.  As loving and trusting as your pet is under normal conditions, injured animals can be dangerous. An injured animal becomes scared and confused, and can often react by biting, scratching, or attacking those trying to assist, so keep your face away from an injured animal’s mouth. Proceed slowly and gently in the presence of an injured animal, being aware of any agitation or fear. If the animal is not vomiting, you may wish to muzzle an injured pet to make sure you won’t be bitten.
  • Never assume that even the gentlest pet will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
  • Don't attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse to comfort your pet, it might only scare the animal more or cause them pain.
  • Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your animal becomes more agitated.
  • Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic before you move your pet so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
  • If necessary and if your pet is not vomiting, go ahead and place a muzzle on the pet to reduce the chances you'll be bitten. 
  • Muzzling Your Dog...That loving and devoted dog can quickly become a snarling biting machine if he's injured and in pain.
  • You'll need to muzzle him as quickly as you can before he has the chance to bite you, other people or other dogs.  A muzzle will protect you from strong jaws and sharp teeth. However, if left on for more than ten minutes at a time, it could harm your dog.  With his mouth tied shut, he won't be able to pant. This can result in breathing troubles or overheating. Work as quickly and as effectively as you can to check out the situation.  If you can't complete everything in ten, give him a cooling down period by relaxing the muzzle for a few minutes.  Don't try to treat anything while the muzzle is off. Sit calmly and speak to him in a quiet, soothing tone.  After a few minutes, muzzle him again and continue working.  A purchased muzzle won't work properly if it does not fit snugly around his snout and then wrap around behind his ears to be tightened.  If it's loose enough to slide back toward the eyes, it won't limit him from opening his mouth enough to bite you or anyone else nearby.  If you don't have a purchased muzzle, use a two to three foot length of strong and soft material.  A scarf or a length of gauze would also do, a leg from a pair of pantyhose, towels, stockings, gauze rolls, or other piece of clothing to muzzle him.

  •  Follow these steps to make an emergency muzzle:
  • Make a large loop (a half knot) in the center of the length of material.
  • Stand behind your dog, then quickly slip the loop over his snout and tighten it before he can shake or paw it off.
  • The half-knot should be on the top of his snout.
  • Bring the two ends down, keeping the loop tight against the snout.
  • Cross the ends under the snout and bring them back behind his head.
  • Using a bow (not a knot, so you can quickly remove it), tie the ends snugly below and behind his ears.
Cats and other small animals may be wrapped in a towel to restrain them, but make sure your pet is not wrapped in the towel too tightly and its nose is uncovered so it can breathe.
Whatever has happened, the pressing need will be to evaluate the damage and then decide how to get healing under way.

Moving An Injured Dog Especially if the dog was hit by a vehicle, regardless if the dog is conscience or unconscious, it must be moved to a safe place. Have someone watch out and block further traffic while you adhere to the following tips:

1. Before attempting to move the dog out of the risk of traffic, check over the his body for obvious wounds, cuts, and distorted limbs.

2. With the help of another person, carefully drag and then lift the dog's body onto a blanket or a coat if you have one. Pull the blanket or coat out of harms way. Avoid rubbing any obvious injuries.

3. It is important to keep the dog muzzled if he is experiencing obvious shock or pain. Be sure to securely tie the muzzle so as to prevent an accidental bite.

4. Gently feel every limb for broken or dislocated bones. And if you suspect a fractured limb, then move it as little as possible. Also, a dog with potential spinal injuries should be lifted on a flat board.

5. Some dogs which have been injured in car accidents appear to be normal. But beware, they may have damage to internal organs and still need gentle handling. Once the dog has been removed for further risk in traffic, examine it thoroughly and take him to the nearest vet.

Canine first aid is very similar to first aid for people. Determine the extent of injury and what should be done for the animal. Begin with the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation. Assess if the dog's airways are clear. If it has trouble breathing it will need medical attention immediately.

The quality of the dog's respiration is also a clue to how it is doing. Slow, shallow breaths are a sign of a critical animal that needs veterinary care quickly. Panting or normal breathing means you need more information about what is going on.
Circulation refers to the cardiovascular system. Check the animal for a pulse and for bleeding. This should be done carefully, as injured animals can bite out of pain or fear, if necessary cover the animals mouth to prevent being bitten. If there are any open bleeding wounds, apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Wounds that bleed heavily or go through all the layers of skin will need medical attention to properly clean and close. Try to keep the wound covered and apply moderate pressure until you can get the dog to a vet. 

Check the animal for any broken bones. An animal with a spinal injury will usually not want to move and should not be moved. If the animal has a nonspinal fracture, muzzle it using a piece of cloth or sock if necessary. Place it on a board or other flat surface for transport again. Broken limbs are best left alone. They can be painful and must be set based on an X-ray, so the best thing is to take them to a vet immediately.

If a cat is the injured animal, a different set of suggestions will apply...mainly because an angry or upset cat can be much more difficult to handle than a dog.

How to Restrain an Injured Cat

by Sheldon Rubin, DVM

Restraining an injured cat is a great technique to learn to help your pet receive the proper cat care. How you approach the cat will depend on whether the cat is cooperative or uncooperative. This is important because a cat has five weapons: the mouth and four claws. Cats don't react in their usual manner when they're injured because of the stresses involved. The following methods should minimize your chances of being scratched or bitten by the frightened cat you are trying to help.

Restraining a Cooperative Cat

You should try Method 1 or Method 2 when you have someone else with you to help your injured cat. Place the cat in your arms or lap or on a table or other raised surface using either of the following two methods.

Method 1

Step 1: Position yourself so the cat's head is to your left.

Step 2: Reach with your right hand over the cat's body and under its chest so the chest is resting in your palm.

Step 3: Lift the cat firmly toward you so that its body is secured between your forearm and your body.

Step 4: Grasp the top of the front legs with the fingers of your right hand, which is still supporting the chest.

Step 5: Using the other hand, prevent the head from moving by grasping under the throat. Scratching the ears with this hand from under the throat is often very comforting.

Step 6: Treatment can then be administered by your assistant while the cat is in your arms.

Method 2

Step 1: Grasp the loose skin on the back of the neck just below the ears. Lift the cat; most cats will become very submissive when this method is used.

Step 2: Grasp the hind legs with your other hand to prevent scratching.

Step 3: Still holding the cat, place it on a table, injured side up.

Step 4: Pull forward on the skin of the neck and pull backward on the hind legs as if gently but firmly stretching the cat.

Step 5: Have your assistant administer first aid.

If You are Alone

If you are alone to restrain the injured cat, use extreme caution along with the following tips.

Step 1: Grasp the loose skin on the back of the neck just below the ears.

Step 2: Lift the cat, and place it on its chest on a table or other raised surface.

Step 3: If the cat will not stay, place it in a large, open box.

Step 4: Administer first aid to the injured cat.

Restraining an Uncooperative Cat

Even if a cat is normally docile, you should be prepared for him or her to give you some trouble. Below are some techniques to help you remain in control of the situation.

If You Have an Assistant

Method 1

You should try this method when you have someone else with you to help your uncooperative injured cat.

Step 1: Drop a blanket or towel over the cat.

Step 2: Scoop up the cat so the towel or blanket encompasses the entire cat, including all four paws.

Step 3: Expose only the injured area, keeping the rest of the cat covered.

Step 4: Have your assistant administer first aid. If the cat is still very aggressive, transport untreated, still covered in the blanket or towel, to the veterinarian.

If You are Alone

Method 2

You should try this method when you have no one else to help you with your uncooperative injured cat.

Step 1: Drop a blanket or towel over the cat.

Step 2: Scoop up the cat so the towel or blanket encompasses the entire cat, including all four paws.

Step 3: Tie the ends of the towel or blanket together with a cord to form a bag, or place the cat in a closed box.

Step 4: Do not attempt to treat the cat's injury. Transport the cat to the veterinarian.

Tips for Transporting an Injured Dog

By: Marcia King

Perhaps one of the scariest things dog owners are ever called on to do is transport our injured dog to the veterinarian or emergency animal hospital. What should you do to avoid hurting or further injuring a dog in pain? And what precautions should you take to avoid hurting yourself?
1. Call your veterinarian or emergency animal clinic first and describe your dog's injury and cause, if known. They may want you to apply certain first-aid techniques prior to or during transport, for example, washing a wound with water or applying pressure to stop blood flow. Knowing that a wounded animal is on the way also expedites the check-in process.
2. If possible, ask a neighbor or someone nearby to drive. It's best if the distracted dog owner is not the one behind the wheel.
3. Even the gentlest dog may bite if he's scared or if you hurt him while moving him, so protect yourself by doing the following:
 •Muzzle your dog. You can lightly tie a necktie, stocking, gauze roll bandage, scarf, etc. around your dog's mouth before you move him, unless your dog is exhibiting respiratory problems or is unconscious. "Once the dog gets settled or any time the dog is not being observed, remove the muzzle," urges James K. Roush, DVM, Dipl ACVS, and Professor and Section Head of Small Animal Surgery at Kansas State University. If your dog gets sick and vomits, not being able to open his mouth wide enough to vomit could have serious or fatal consequences.
 •Have someone hold your dog's head to prevent him from turning and biting you.
•Gently lay a small pillow, towel, or blanket between your dog's mouth and your hand until you are done moving the dog, suggests Darryl Millis, DVM, Dipl ACVS, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Chief of Surgery at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 
4. Staunch uncontrolled bleeding (more than 5 minutes) by applying pressure to the site with a clean, padded bandage or gauze square to minimize blood loss. 
5. If a limb is broken below the knee or elbow, wrap a bath towel around the leg and secure it loosely with tape in order to help reduce painful movement. When moving the injured dog, gently support the bone on either side of the fracture so that the broken bone does not bend awkwardly. In general, don't attempt to splint it, says Millis. "Excessive manipulation of the fracture could be painful and result in an owner becoming bitten."
6. If bones are exposed, don't try pushing the bones back in place, Millis warns. Instead, place a clean towel or sterile gauze over the open wound and/or broken ends and then immobilize as described above.
7. If the dog appears to have only a broken limb and is small enough to carry, Millis says you can usually pick him up by putting one arm under the chest, the other under the abdomen, then lifting him up. "Be careful about the head and neck – you don’t want to get bitten."
8. Alternatively, transport your dog in a crate or size-appropriate box. 
9. To transport large or heavy dogs, gently slide a sturdy board beneath the dog, suggests Millis. You can use a table leaf, bookshelf, plank, ironing board, cutting board, toboggan/sled, door, throw rug, blanket or something similar to act as a stretcher, or the tray from his crate. "Keep your dog from jumping or falling off the board, by using a padded strap or towel tied around the body and board," advises Roush. If a tray or board isn't available, use a towel or blanket to serve as a stretcher or as a sling.
10. Take special care if your dog is immobile, can't walk on his hind limbs, or is wobbly on his hind limbs, as he may have a pelvic or spinal injury, says Roush. Excess movement could exacerbate the injury. Use a board or tray, as described above, to minimize movement.
How to Transport an Injured Cat
by Sheldon Rubin
An important part of cat care is knowing how to transport an injured cat without hurting him or her or making the injury worse. To successfully transport an injured cat, you must remember it has five weapons: the mouth and four claws. An injured cat is likely to also be frightened -- especially if it is being moved -- so great caution must be taken.
If the Cat can be Lifted

Method A

Step 1a: If the cat is cooperative, reach with your right hand over the cat's body and under its chest so the chest is resting in your palm. Lift the cat firmly toward you so its body is secured between your forearm and your body.
Step 1b: Place the cat in a carrier or closed box to transport the cat to the veterinarian.
Step 2a: If the cat is uncooperative, and if you are alone, put a towel or blanket over the cat, including all four paws.
Step 2b: Tie the ends of the towel or blanket together with a cord to form a bag, or place the cat in a carrier or closed box.
Step 2c: Transport the cat to the veterinarian.

If the Cat Needs a Stretcher

Step 1: Use a blanket, a flat board, or a strong piece of cardboard.
Step 1a: If you are using a blanket, place one hand under the cat's chest and the other hand under its rear. Carefully lift or slide the cat onto the blanket.
Step 1b: Grasp each end of the blanket and lift. Try to keep the blanket taut to form a stretcher.
Step 1c: Transport the cat to the veterinarian.
Step 2: If you are using a flat board or strong piece of cardboard:
Step 2a: Place two or three long strips of cloth or rope under the board, avoiding the area where the cat's neck will rest. 
Step 2b: Place one hand under the cat's chest and the other under its rear; carefully lift or slide the cat onto the board.
Step 2c: Tie the cat to the board to prevent him or her from falling.
Step 2d: Transport the cat to the veterinarian.
These emergency handling techniques are easy to use, but the time to learn them is not during a crisis.
Practice them before you need them. Practice alone and with a helper. Make these dog handling techniques part of an annual training period, perhaps when you rehearse your evacuation if you live in a disaster-prone area, or on your dog's birthday.
You should always keep your pet's medical records in a safe, easily accessible place. Bring these with you when you take your pet for emergency treatment.
Adapted from:
It is not Helpful Buckeye's intention to make all of our pet-owning readers into EMTs or Veterinary Assistants, but rather this is an effort to help you become an even more responsible pet owner who knows how to respond when a pet injury occurs.
Any comments or suggestions should be sent to Helpful Buckeye or posted at the "Comment" section at the end of this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.
The LA DODGERS have finished the week just 1 game behind the Giants.  Their performance still lacks consistency however.  A 4-game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates will be a tough way to start the week, considering the Pirates have the best home record in all of baseball.
Helpful Buckeye has spent most of this past week at a self-imposed computer "boot camp," during which I worked on transferring all the important data from our 7-year old desktop computer to our flashy new model.  This, of course, included getting familiar with the new desktop as well as backing up all of our files, adding interesting new software, making copies of recovery discs, and making absolutely sure that I had copied my more than 10,000 songs and 14,000 pictures.  The new set up is pretty slick, almost like getting a new car.  Yippee!
A very good friend sent me an e-mail this week that said this quote reminded him of me:
"Progress is about challenging yourself in situations in which you feel uneasy and uncertain.  That's where you stumble and that's where you grow."  Anonymous
He's been closely following my efforts to test myself against some of the geographical challenges of the Southwest.  He has provided me with a listening ear, a caring attitude, and a sounding board for my plans.  He'd be right there beside me if his health allowed.  Thanks, man!
~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~

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