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Keep calm and assess the situation.
Sick or injured animals may be frightened and in pain and may bite or scratch – even the most gentle animal may become unpredictable. Being loud or stressed will also stress them out and could make their condition worse. Do not hug or cuddle the animal as this could also be dangerous to you or them.
Be aware of anything that could endanger your own life - water, roads etc.
Contact the vet
Keep your vet's name, address and number stored in your phone. It's best to call your usual veterinary practice first - not an emergency clinic you may have been to.
Ideally always phone ahead because:
- your practice may be closed if out of hours/bank holiday, but will have a recorded message telling you who to contact instead
- you will be given appropriate advice on what to do
- the vet will be able to prepare for your arrival.
You may not be able to speak to a vet in all circumstances but often a receptionist or nurse will be able to give appropriate advice and directions.
Better if you can go to the vet rather than them coming to you as more can be done in the surgery and the animal will be treated quicker.
Do not feed the animal unless instructed
This in case sedation or anaesthesia is required. In general it is never a good idea to feed an animal prior to a vet visit. The animal can be offered water.
DO NOT GIVE MEDICATIONS unless instructed by a vet to do so
This can be very dangerous and can complicate the picture for several reasons. What is given could be toxic (eg half a 500mg tablet could cause toxicity or death in a cat) or could react with drugs we might want to give. Many human drugs are not appropriate for usage in animals. Previously prescribed veterinary medications should not be given without speaking to your vet as they may be inappropriate to in the animal's current condition.
Please speak to us first before administering anything.
Some animals will require restraint
This may be difficult even if it is your dog or cat which usually would be very trusting of you. If they are in pain they may react differently to normal.
Muzzle dogs with basket muzzle if possible, if not then tie a bandage around the nose and tie behind the back of the head (can still bite so be careful!). Be careful with muzzles if the animal is not breathing well and never muzzle an actively vomiting animal.
Small dogs or cats can be wrapped in a thick blanket or towel and scooped up - pop them into a basket/box if you have this to hand. Larger dogs can be placed on a board/large blanket/sled if non-ambulatory or there is concern regarding spinal trauma.
If you are transporting the animal by car try to have a second person with you to look after the animal so you are not distracted while driving - don't risk further injury to the animal, yourself, or others!