By: Dr. Naama Manor
When your dog is in stress due to a car accident, poisoning, or any other trauma, it's important to get him quickly to the vet, but equally important to get him there safely.
The wrong evacuation technique might worsen the injuries and puts the care-taker in a risk for a bite.
Treat the dog as gently as possible
Treatment that is not gentle might worsen internal bleeding, damage surrounding tissues and cause further complications. Try to make the dog feel most comfortable, encourage him to lie down and gently roll him to his side.
If he resists or has difficulty breathing while on his side, he might have a chest or a lung injury. In such a case it is best to let the dog choose his position.
Avoid putting pressure on the abdomen
Even small pressure like petting or resting your hand on the dog's belly might worsen trauma cases, especially in dogs with difficulty of breathing, dogs that had vomited, and dogs with stomach aches.
Small dogs may be carried in a bag or a cat restrainer. Large dogs are best transferred to the car with a blanket. Put the dog in the center of a blanket; roll the edges to get a good grip, pick all 4 corners and carry him gently (requires 2 people). In the car, either tie him to the seat or have someone sit next to it.
If the dog seems paralyzed or unable to get up, and there's suspected back injury, it is mandatory to immobilize him to prevent further damage to the nerves. Get a strong flat surface (a wide shelf, an ironing board). While the dog is lying on his side, hold him by the loose skin at the back of his neck and in his lower back, and gently slide him on to the board. Keep his back and neck straight, and tie or tape him to the board.
If this attempt makes your dog struggle put him on a blanket as described above.
Positioning the head
If the dog is unconscious, position his head in a normal angle with his back, not upward or downward. Putting the head in an angle with the back might block the drainage of the blood from the brain. If the dog vomits or appears as if he might vomit, put his head under the level of his heart, so the vomit flows freely out of his mouth and not into the trachea and lungs. Note that dogs with head injuries are likely to vomit, even when unconscious.
Cover the dog with a blanket
Covering with a blanket has a soothing effect and more importantly – it prevents heat loss.
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