WDMD is not a licensed veterinarian. This is not meant as a substitute for veterinary care. Always seek help from your vet after an emergency.
Be prepared to handle any emergency by becoming certified in Pet First Aid and CPR. This course is self-paced, online, simple and can potentially save a dog’s life. This is an affiliate link, to learn about our disclaimers, please visit here.
Bonnie Conner DVM, a Clinical Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine & Critical Care at University of Florida, specializes in small animal emergency and clinical care.
How to be prepared for a dog (or cat) emergency?
The first rule of providing first aid is to ensure the safety of the first responders. Before approaching your pet in an emergency, make sure the environment is safe and that you feel comfortable approaching your pet. The most likely reason for a first responder to become injured is from a bite or a scratch. Even the most well behaved animal may become aggressive if she’s in pain or she is afraid.
Fortunately, the risk of transmitting infections or disease from your pet to you are pretty low.
Signs that the pet may become aggressive are:
If you see any of these signs, or other signs pointing to aggression, do not approach the animal until help arrives or the animal has calmed down. If you do feel comfortable approaching the pet, use a slip lead to leash the dog. Before transporting a pet that is in pain, it is important to place a muzzle. If you do not have a muzzle, you can make a loop from the leash or soft material, pass it over the muzzle, loop it under the chin and tie it behind the ears. Make sure you can take it off easy. If your dog becomes more agitated or aggressive with the muzzle, just skip this step.
In small dogs, you can try to use a towel to cover the head and restrain her.