Restraining and picking up an injured dog
A dog is injured… what now?
I was recently called out by the local Police on an emergency visit.
A dog had been hit by a car on the highway, and a few well meaning by-standers who were trying to help could not get near him.
When they went to touch him, he tried to bite.
He obviously had a fractured leg, so he needed urgent veterinary care.
In approaching him, I saw that he was a gentle looking Lab, who was in a lot of pain.
But before I could do anything – even properly examine him and give him some pain medication – I had to properly restrain and muzzle him.
Here are the basics for restraining and picking up an injured dog.
Restraining a dog
1. Approach the dog, speaking quietly and avoiding direct eye contact.
2. Move close without touching the dog. If the dog can stand, often sitting close beside him and encouraging him to come to you works better than reaching out to him. Some small dogs will jump into your lap.
3. If the dog is quiet, head lowered, shivering or outwardly friendly, allow the dog to smell your hand. Then pet the dog if it is still submissive. Start under the jaw then slowly move your hand over the head.
4. Slip a leash around the dog’s neck. This can be made from a rope, tie, belt or whatever is available. The leash is best made as a ‘noose’ that will tighten if the dog pulls back. If the dog is aggressive then the noose can be made very large and dropped over the dog’s head from above. Such a dog probably can’t walk, otherwise he would not be allowing you anywhere near him. If the dog is on the road it may be better to pull (or if necessary) drag the dog off the road before proceeding further. This sounds awful but may be required for safety reasons.
Muzzling a dog
1. Use a long piece of rope, gauze bandage or panty hose (this makes a great muzzle) or whatever you can find.
2. Start with a half throw, with the knot on the top of the nose. If the dog is very aggressive we will make the loop and then slip it over the nose by holding the ends of the rope and pulling it tight once in place. This will shut the dog’s mouth.
3. Place another half knot under the jaw. Again if the dog is aggressive work the knot at a distance and then draw it tight.
4. Bring the ends behind the ears and tie them FIRMLY in a bow. The muzzle needs to be fairly tight otherwise the dog may remove it with a paw.
How to Pick Up An Injured Dog
1. With the dog facing away from you, put one hand under the dog’s neck and grasp the collar on the side that is opposite to you. If the dog is unknown (or it looks like he might bite) it’s not a bad idea to grab a bit of skin as well. It gives you some control of the head – but not total control.
2. With the other hand reach over the dog and place your hand, palm up, under the dog’s chest, taking some weight with your forearm.
3. Lift the dog then cradle the dog against you so he is secured between your forearm and your body. You may be able to let go of the dog’s neck at this point.
In the case I was called out on, the Labradors’ name was Pierre. His owners were found and were very grateful he was cared for. He recovered fine with supportive care, and a splint.
If you are ever in this type of situation, properly restrain, muzzle and pick up the injured pet. You now know more than 99% of the pet owners today.