Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Handling and Transporting a Sick or Injured Dog

Care must be taken when transporting injured dogs.

If your dog becomes injured or severely ill, you will need to transport him to the veterinarian. Handling the dog to perform first aid may be required first, depending on the circumstances. You can learn more about the first aid required for some common emergency situations here: "First Aid for Dogs: An Overview."

It's important to remember that a sick or injured dog may bite, even if the dog is known to you and has never bitten before. Fear or pain can make any dog dangerous to you, so always approach with caution.

Approach an Injured or Sick Dog Carefully

When you see that your dog is having a problem, approach him to find out more, but do so slowly and carefully.

Speak in a calm and soothing tone, and move with your hand extended a bit in front of your body toward the dog.

Restrain the Dog

Use a muzzle to restrain the dog if possible. This will allow you to look him over, perform first aid, and transport him more easily. You may have a muzzle in your well-stocked canine first aid kit, or you may need to fashion a homemade version.

Do not muzzle a dog in the following situations:

  • Don't muzzle an unconscious dog
  • A vomiting dog should not be muzzled
  • No muzzle should be used on a dog with difficulty breathing or choking
  • If a dog has a mouth injury, don't attempt to muzzle him

If you are unable to muzzle the dog because it's unsafe to do so either because of the dog's condition or his reaction to you, you may be able to slip a large Elizabethan collar over his head. This may provide some calming and restraint.

Depending on the location of any injuries and the size of your dog, you may wish to wrap him in a towel or blanket for further restraint.

Transporting a Sick or Injured Dog

When it's time to transport the dog, you can make a stretcher out of an ironing board or another flat, rigid surface. A child's sled can work well for this, too. You can use towels, loose straps, or human hands to hold him on the board.

You may also place a large towel or blanket under your dog, then have someone help you gently lift the four corners and carry him as steadily as possible.

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.