Every pet owner’s nightmare is having their companion become sick or injured. But, while the compassion and love is always present, owners must remember to handle an injured pet with caution. Injured pets do not always behave as their owners would expect, which can lead to the owner getting injured. Taking steps to protect yourself when transporting an injured pet to the veterinarian or animal hospital is critical.
Animals Use Their Instincts When Injured
People treat their pets like one of the family. They buy them treats, sleep with them, and occasionally put them in cute pet clothing. But, despite this humanizing of the pet, an animal is always an animal.
Even the best trained, most gentle pet can react in unexpected ways when confronted with pain, confusion, and fear. It’s a natural animal survival instinct that isn’t lost through domestication. Similar to the “fight or flight” instinct, when a dog is injured or frightened, it turns its senses to self-preservation. Overwhelmed by the extreme stress of the situation or trauma, the dog goes into a survival mode. Sometimes owners are taken by surprise when their beloved pet behaves aggressively. It’s important to recognize this situation and take steps to protect your animal and yourself.
Protecting Yourself and Your Pet When Transporting for Emergency Care
When your pet is already injured, you want to protect it from additional injury. At the same time, you need to protect yourself from becoming injured in the process. In the confusion and stress of the moment, remembering this need can be difficult. Learning to handle an injured pet before an injury occurs is an important part of responsible pet ownership.
Some tips to learn are:
- Don’t expect your pet to behave in its usual way. A normally gentle animal may be more aggressive than usual. Or, your pet may be unpredictable and calm one minute and angry the next. Be alert and prepared.
- Stay gentle, calm, and focused. You want to be comforting, but doing so may upset your pet further. Do not try to be affectionate to your pet at this time, as it may misunderstand your affection and bite you. Keep face and hands away from the pet’s mouth as much as possible. Focus on getting your pet the care it needs before comforting.
- Use restraints carefully. If your pet is not vomiting, it may be wise to muzzle it to prevent bites. Soft muzzles can be made using gauze, stockings, or other stretchy cloth items. If you need to wrap an animal snugly for transport, try to stabilize any injuries first by splinting. Make sure that your pet can breathe and that the nose is not covered.
- Be prepared in advance. Keep your pet’s medical records in a convenient and accessible location. Have your veterinarian’s and closest emergency pet hospital’s telephone numbers handy to call ahead so they will expect your arrival.
While the risk of serious injury or death from a dog bite is low overall, by practicing these tips during an emergency you can protect yourself and your pet from additional pain and discomfort. Contact an animal hospital like Andrew’s Square Pet Clinic for more information.