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What to do if you find an injured pet

Accidents and injuries don’t only affect humans. Unfortunately, millions of pets across the United States are injured every year. The severity of these injuries can range tremendously, from cuts and bruises to broken bones and life-threatening trauma.

Nearly all of these injuries will require professional intervention in some form. Knowing what to do if you come across an injured animal, or if your pet is involved in an accident, could have a positive influence on the outcome of the situation. With this in mind, here’s our advice on what you should and shouldn’t do if you find an injured pet.


Approach with caution

The first thing to remember is that animals that are sick or injured may be scared and in pain, and this can affect their behavior. Even if your pet is usually the calmest and most placid of animals, they could hiss, bark, scratch, and even bite if they have been injured. If you come across an injured pet and they are behaving in a threatening manner, it is best not to approach them as they could hurt you and even themselves. Instead, speak directly to an emergency veterinarian or local Animal Control agency and explain the situation. If the animal is still walking around, follow them from a safe distance.


Do not provide any food

It can be tempting to give an injured pet something to eat, either to gain their trust or because you are worried that they are hungry. However, you should never provide food for an injured animal unless specifically instructed to by a veterinarian. This is because there is a chance that they may require surgery that requires sedation and/or anesthetic, and this can be more dangerous if an animal has recently eaten. You can, however, offer fresh, cool water.


Do not give any medications

Similarly, it’s important not to give an injured animal any medications. If it’s not your pet, you don’t know if they are already on medications that could still be in their system. Any previously prescribed drugs may be inappropriate in the current circumstances. Always wait and speak to a veterinarian first.


Consider using a muzzle

If your dog is injured, or you come across an injured dog, using a muzzle is an effective way of securing them so that you can safely move them and take them to see a veterinarian. If you don’t have a muzzle, you can make one using a bandage tied around the nose and across the back of the head. However, if you don’t feel like you can apply one safely, stay back and speak to your veterinarian instead.


Create a sling/use a stretcher

If the injured animal you have discovered is struggling to walk, a rudimentary sling could make transporting them to your vehicle or a veterinary office much easier. Use a long rolled towel or take a grocery tote bag and cut an inch or so off of each side so that it opens with a handle on each end. Place it under their abdomen in front of their hind legs so that it takes their weight. Alternatively, any sort of strong, flat board can make an ideal stretcher to place them onto. Make sure you carefully secure the animal to the board using fabric or straps.


Contact a veterinarian as soon as possible

Whether it’s your usual veterinarian or a local out-of-hours service, contact a veterinary professional as soon as possible. Provide as much information as you can about how you found the animal, the condition that they are in, and where they are, and follow all of the instructions provided.

For more advice on what to do if you find an injured pet, call the Animal Emergency Center of Temple-Belton in Temple, TX at (254) 231-3774 today.

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