The good news is that most injuries animals receive are minor and can be treated at home when you have the right supplies and the right know-how. For more serious emergencies that require professional veterinary nursing, it’s essential that you keep your pet calm and comfortable when transporting them to the vet clinic to prevent further injury.
As any vet will tell you, animals tend to be naturally calmer than humans when dealing with pain and discomfort. That’s why it’s vital to keep your own emotions under control and avoid panicking, as your pet is likely to pick up on your anxiety and react in unpredictable ways.
Keeping your pet calm is especially important if their injuries were sustained in a confrontation with another animal. The adrenaline could still be flowing and they might react aggressively to your attempts at care.
Just like when humans are injured, moving an injured animal before checking for signs of trauma can be dangerous and cause further problems. Keep your pet as still and comfortable as possible while you gently check the extent of their injuries, especially if there is any bleeding.
If your pet refuses to keep still, they may need to be restrained using linens or a muzzle, making sure the restraint is not too tight and does not cover their nose. Do not muzzle your pet if it is vomiting.
Emergency first aid
You don’t have to be a qualified vet to administer basic first aid, which in many cases could save your pet’s life. If you’re not sure how to treat your pet, contact your vet for advice about home remedies and how to prepare your animal for safe transport to the clinic.
If you don’t have a dedicated animal first aid kit, many household items can do just as well, such as hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds, sticks and tape for a makeshift splint, and gauze for wrapping sprains or burns. You should avoid using first aid products designed for humans, as these can cause further pain and infection.
Visiting the vet
Emergency first aid is not a substitute for professional veterinary nursing, and when your pet is stabilised they should be taken to your local vet clinic as soon as possible. Contact your vet in advance so they will be ready to receive your pet when you arrive, and bring along all of your animal’s existing medical records. Keeping these in an easily accessible place will save time and confusion when you need them.
Always take care when moving an injured animal in and out of your vehicle, as sudden movements can cause trauma, bleeding or infection. Pet carriers, cages and other containers will help to restrict their movement during the journey, and these should also be restrained with a seat belt.
Like humans, animals can sometimes go into shock when injured, so covering them with a light blanket will help to keep them warm and comfortable. If you suspect that your pet has head, neck or spinal trauma, their head should be kept as still as possible during the trip, and any broken limbs should be splinted and wrapped.
Spending a little time learning the basics of emergency first aid now could really pay off in the future, ensuring that the furry members of your family will always have the best chance of a full and speedy recovery.