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Injured cats and dogs: what to do if you find an animal in distress

A sad black and white border collie

Finding a sick or injured cat or dog can be an incredibly distressing experience and presents a myriad of difficult questions.

Should I approach them? Who should I call? Do they have an owner?

Petplan takes a look at the things you should do to ensure that you stay safe and the animal receives the best possible care and attention…

How to help injured dogs:

* The first thing to do on coming across an injured dog is to try and calm them before you approach. Speak calmly to reassure them, and ensure they can see you at all times as you get nearer.

* When you come across an injured dog, it’s usually best to leave them in the same position as when you find them. Moving them may exacerbate any existing injuries and cause more pain for the dog. This is a particular risk for back injuries.

* However, if the dog is in the road, you should try to move them if you can – but only if the dog doesn’t seem aggressive. It’s important to prevent the risk of the dog being hit by another car.

* Try initially touching the dog gently on the rump to gauge their responsiveness to being touched. If they do not react, proceed slowly and with great caution.

* If you have a board or a movable flat surface to hand, gently manoeuvre the dog onto it and carry them out of further harm’s way. This will help to minimise any accidental irritation of injuries.

* Call the RSPCA as soon as the dog is out of harm’s way. They will be able to talk you through what to do and provide advice. While, they will generally recommend taking the injured animal to a local vet, they may be able to come out and rescue the injured animal if you are unable to get them there or don’t feel comfortable doing so.

* Unless advised otherwise, the next step is to get the dog to a vet. It is not advisable to treat the dog yourself as you could unwittingly make the injury worse. In addition to this, injuries such as cuts, which can look minor and just in need of a bandage, could actually be concealing greater internal injuries.

* If you have a car, place the dog gently in the back of your car. Leave them with some food and drink, and cover them with a blanket. Then drive slowly to your local vet or animal rescue shelter.

Once the professionals have taken over it’s time to try and contact the dog’s owner. If they’re a pet then they should have a collar with the owner’s details on it, or ask the vet to check for a microchip. If the animal has neither of these then it’s worth posting on lost pet blogs, placing advertisements in the local newspaper or the old standby – posters around your local area.

How to help injured cats:

Many of the things you should do when finding an injured cat are the same as with a dog. However, there are some crucial differences that are worth taking into account:

* Firstly, try to take a look at the injury without touching them. Cats are usually a bit fussier than dogs about people touching them and they can bolt. This can make their injury even worse.

* If the cat isn’t in the road, don’t touch them. Call the RSPCA who will advise you on what to do next.

* Try to calm the cat by speaking to them gently and offering them water or strong smelling food such as fish.

* Usually when cats are unable to see, they should relax. Therefore it may be a good idea to place a light blanket over them before moving them. Once covered, with no way to see what’s going on, the cat should feel secure and will begin to relax.

* If they are in the road, then you need to move them before anything else, or they may get struck by a car. As with dogs, try to move them gently onto a board or flat surface and move them that way, so as to not make any injuries worse.

* If possible, take the cat to your local vet and they will then be able to treat the cat professionally, and organise reuniting them with their owner by checking their microchip or tags. Again, if taking the cat to a vet is not an option, the RSPCA may be able to come out and collect the cat. Stay with the cat and reassure them until the help arrives.

Do you have any experience with finding an injured animal? Let us know your story below…

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2 Responses to Injured cats and dogs: what to do if you find an animal in distress

  1. Tracey says:

    Once I was driving home and it was firework night and I found a Staffordshire Bull terrier running around the road. I made my partner stop and tried to get the dog in the car. He was too scared and a firework went off so he ran again. We turned around and followed him he was too fast to keep up with. We turned a corner where we had seen him run and there he was in the road. A twat In a BMW had hit him and was just driving off. We stopped the car I ran straight to him he was still alive so I picked him up and put him on my lap wrapped in my coat. We raced to the nearest vet and by time the vet on call came out he had died in my arms. At least he wasn’t alone on the road. The next day I had a phone call from the vet they had found the owner and the vet asked if I would meet the family whose pet it was. So I agreed to see them it turned out it was a family with three children who dearly loved the dog. They thanked me for what I had done. We all cried as I have dogs myself and was glad to have picked him up. It was the hardest thing to do picking him up but also the best thing to cuddle him and talk to him while he died in my arms.

  2. tina says:

    ive tried to save an injured dog but she died be for e i got her to thevets but it was my sisters dog who just left her i sad you lil chitter , little did i knwo she had distemper and i had to treat my dog getting him meds but he had it 3 times but survived thanks to the pdsa , and i aslo resuced dogs too cz they were being beat by their owner but i got my own back coz i took em away and got em to a new family that was 26 years ago , and my bunny years later some one beat him to a pulp i couldnt help him it was too late so he died in my rms i knew who did it, but was never charged. and people ask why i hate kids its coz they killed my cat kittens

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