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How to Safely Transport and Handle an Injured Animal

Accidents and emergencies happen - and when they do, we have a tendency to want to act fast. In the event of an unexpected emergency, it is important to know how to proceed as safely as possible. In this blog, we will discuss how to safely transport and handle an animal that is injured!


Helpful things to keep on hand

Your veterinarian’s phone number and hours of operation

Your nearest emergency animal hospital number

A muzzle (size and fit is important!)

A carrier/crate or car seat to keep your pet contained in the car

A spare leash/slip lead (keeping one in the car can come in handy)

Thick gloves

Transport Tips and Important Considerations

  1. While easier said than done, the most important thing to do is remain as calm as possible while trying to navigate an emergency! Take a few deep breaths and assess the situation. If you need assistance in lifting or transporting your pet, call someone who is nearby and can assist you.


  1. Depending on the emergency, you may be able to call your veterinarian’s office for instruction first. However, in more dire situations, we recommend heading straight to the emergency hospital, as their staff is more readily available and prepared for a wider range of emergency situations. Please do not head to your normal clinic without calling first, as you do not want to waste time if there is not a veterinarian currently in the clinic who can treat your pet.

  1. Treat any injured animal as though they may bite, regardless of their usual temperament. Any animal that is feeling painful or fearful can and will bite! Go slow, be gentle, and try to keep your voice and demeanor calm so as to not further stress your pet. Go especially slow if you are attempting to assist a pet that is not familiar to you. When available, use a muzzle* before attempting to handle your pet.

*If your pet is vomiting, convulsing, or having difficulty breathing, do not use a muzzle that keeps their mouth shut as this can cause a pet to aspirate. A basket muzzle (that allows their mouth to open) may be used with discretion.

  1. Handle the animal as little as possible. Accidentally touching your pet where they are painful may not only cause them to bite, but may cause them to try to bolt or flee, possibly injuring themselves further in the process. If possible, place small dogs and cats into some type of carrier (cardboard boxes or laundry baskets make great makeshift carriers) and transport the entire carrier versus carrying the pet. Similarly, if you have the ability and manpower, use some type of board or other flat surface to lift larger pets in the car. Once you arrive, the veterinary staff can assist in safely getting your pet out of the car and into the clinic for treatment.

  1. Keep them as still as possible. Again, sometimes easier said than done, especially if your pet’s emergency happens when you are alone and there is not someone else to soothe or keep the pet still while you drive. If possible, transport your pet in their carrier, a makeshift carrier, or utilize a car seat or car divider to limit their mobility. If you can get your pet to lay down and doing so does not appear to be causing them any further distress, it is recommended to do so; however, if they have found a comfortable position and are not moving around the moving car, you can let them situate themselves.

  1. Use a blanket (or t-shirt, towel, etc.) to cover your pet. Not only can this assist with limiting their movement, but it can provide a calming effect. If your pet is experiencing a temperature-related emergency (such as falling into a cold pool, or experiencing hypothermia), they should definitely be bundled up on their way to receiving veterinary care.

  1. If your pet is unconscious, be sure to place them in the car in a position that does not obstruct their airway or pose a danger if they start vomiting. Their head should be in a normal, neutral position. Avoid flexing the head too far in one direction (such as up or down hanging over a seat) as this can sometimes cause more harm than good. Avoid holding pets on their back/upside down so that if they vomit it goes down and out to avoid aspiration.

  1. Know where you are going. Ideally, you have familiarized yourself with nearby emergency clinics prior to an emergency so you have an easier time finding one in a pinch. If you are traveling with your pet, be sure to look into where the closest animal hospital is while you are out of town so you are not scrambling to find a location in the middle of a crisis.

  1. The most important rule of all: drive safely! Avoid speeding or driving recklessly (such as running stop signs or red lights) as this can not only pose a danger to yourself and other drivers on the road, but accidents or getting pulled over can lead to further delays in your pet’s treatment. Use GPS to ensure the quickest route with the least amount of delays (construction, accidents, road closures, etc.).

  1. Know when to step back and call for help. Always handle wildlife with extreme caution to avoid being bit or scratched by wild animals, such as raccoons, opossums, skunks, rabbits, coyotes, etc. These animals may contain diseases that can cause serious or fatal illness in humans.

For additional questions please contact us at 972-347-6100.

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