In the event of a canine emergency it is important to immediately perform any life saving measures that are needed to preserve the dog's life, and then stabilize the dog as quickly as possible before heading to a veterinarian. The first few moments after an emergency has occurred are the most important, and your quick response could save a dog's life.
Approaching an Injured Animal
Injured animals have a strong instinct to leave the area of the accident and to hide in order to protect their selves. In nature, this instinct serves to keep injured animals safe from predators that may exploit an animal's injury for their own gain. Keeping this instinct in mind, it is important to approach an injured animal slowly while talking to the animal in a calm and non-threatening voice.
What To Do First
Once an emergency has occurred, the first thing to do is to check the dog's ABC's: airway, breathing, and circulation. If the dog is not breathing and the airway seems obstructed, visually check for any obstruction that could be blocking the dog's airway and if necessary perform the canine Heimlich maneuver. If the airway is open but the dog is not breathing, canine CPR should be carried out at once.
Once the dog's ABC's have been checked, look for any signs of bleeding, broken bones, swelling, bruising of the skin or limbs, or any objects which have hurt the dog (gunshot wound, knives, glass, and other foreign objects). If the dog is bleeding, control bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound. If a foreign object has broken the dog's skin never remove the object, and instead try to control bleeding around the object. Once any life threatening bleeding is addressed, stabilize any injured areas and prepare the dog for immediate transport.
If there are no signs of injury to the dog, quickly check the dog's temperature for any signs of heat stroke (hyperthermia) or extreme cold (hypothermia) before beginning transport. If the dog is suffering from these conditions, cool the dog down (or warm the dog up in the event of hypothermia) before beginning transport.
How to Identify and Manage the Dog's Pain
Most dogs will show some symptoms if they are in severe pain, but this is not always the case. Certain breeds of dogs have an extremely high tolerance to pain, and they may not show any symptoms even if they have severe injuries such as a broken bones. This is why it is so important to have a dog thoroughly checked by a veterinarian after an accident even if no symptoms of an injury are apparent.
When an emergency has occurred and the dog seems injured but there is no sign of injury, you can gently palpate the dog's body and limbs to check for any areas where pain is present. Once painful areas have been identified, these areas need to be stabilized as quickly as possible to prepare the dog for transport.
While a dog in an emergency may be in extreme pain, it is important to realize that the pain cannot truly be managed until the dog has received professional medical attention. However, you can help to reduce the dog's pain by stabilizing the injury, keeping the dog warm in the event of shock with a blanket, and staying calm with the dog (if dog's sense that their owners or people around them are upset they will pick up on those emotions and become further distressed).
Transporting an Injured Animal
Keep the injured animal from moving as much as possible and try to stabilize any injuries before transport.
Stabilize any injured areas by wrapping the injured areas in any type of cloth. Stabilize broken limbs with cloth, newspaper, cardboard, or whatever is handy at the time.
Once the injured area has been stabilized, use a large towel or blanket to move the dog. Gently scoot the dog onto the towel or blanket, have two people pick up each corner of the towel or blanket, and lift the dog into the vehicle.
If a dog tries to bite or snap during the transport, it may be necessary to muzzle the dog with a strip of material.