First Aid When Your Pet Fell from High Place

Your pets – especially when they are still young – may climb into high place like on top of the table or cabinet while they are exploring and fall during an accident. Other time, they may try jump from your arm when they don’t feel like being carried, not noticing the height between them and the floor surface. Fall from such height can be dangerous for young or small pet whose fall control is not yet developed. It can even be fatal if their body is not yet tough enough to handle crashing.


Sprain is probably the most common effect after a fall. Your pet may not bleed or unable to move, but you’ll notice him limping when he walks after. Give a thorough check to your dog to make sure he is just limping and there are no other injuries such as bleeding or fracture. Put your pet to rest and limit his activity for two days.

Keeping him in a crate will limit his movement and force him to rest. If swelling occur, wrap ice cube with a clothes and apply it on the swelling for 10-15 minutes for every two hours. You can also apply heat pack instead of ice cube if your dog prefers. After two days, the sprain should already get better. If it isn’t, it’s time to visit the pet.


Fracture means broken bones, usually on the legs, depending on which part your pet lands (or fail to) on the floor. You can tell the possibilities of fracture if you notice your pet’s legs are positioned or bent in awkward angle and your pet doesn’t make any attempt at straightening them. This is usually accompanied with whining or hurting sounds since fracture is painful. When this happens, avoid moving your pet too much since it will aggravate the fracture. Move him efficiently inside a crate or carrier to transport to the vet.

Broken Rib

Broken rib is slightly more dangerous than leg bone fracture because the broken rib can puncture internal organ such as lungs or heart. To avoid this, don’t move your pet from his position. Keep him still because if he attempts to move, the injury may get worsened. If he prefers lying down, let him. If he prefers sitting down, let him. The goal is to keep him still.

When you need to transfer him, slid a hard surface like a thin wooden board or cookie baking sheet under his weigh for small weigh dog. For bigger dog, you may need to make a makeshift gurney from the same sturdy material.

Open wound

Open wound in pet can be risky since many germs, bacteria, and other dangerous microorganism may take this opportunity to settle inside your pet’s body. Prevent future infection by cleaning the wound with water and hydrogen peroxide (keep in mind that human disinfectant product may be toxic for animal) and then keep the wound closed using clear bandages.

Heavy bleeding

If your pet fell and crashed into hard surface, his skin may tear and bleeding may occur. When this happens, the first thing you should do is to stop the bleeding. Find sterile clothes or towel and apply pressure on top of the bleeding spot. When the clothes or towel gets soaked with blood, don’t remove it as it may cause scab. Instead, put more clothes or towel on top and continue applying pressure. The bleeding should stop in five minutes or so.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is more dangerous and harder to spot. If broken rib occurs, it can puncture lungs or diaphragm, sending your dog into shock. This can be fatal, so watch the sign of breathing difficulty and moaning because of pain when no wound is visible outside. Transfer your pet to the vet immediately while moving him as little as possible – use hard surface slid under the body as makeshift gurney. Internal injuries may need surgery as the treatment – there is no way for you to stop it on your own.

Stopped Breathing

If your pet doesn’t move when he crashed on the floor, check immediately if he is still breathing. If he isn’t, then you will have to give him artificial respiration to coax his lung to breathe on his own. Close your pet’s muzzle or mouth with your hand. Then, via his nostrils, blow oxygen into him. Aim to blow 15-20 times per minute. After a minute, check if his chest start moving. If it isn’t, seek medical help immediately while keeping the artificial respiration.

Nerve (head or spinal) injuries

Bleeding from nose, ears, or eyes are sign of head injuries. Meanwhile, a pet that can’t move after the fall may suffer from spinal injuries. Both are fatal and if your pet shows any indication of this, you should bring him to the nearest animal hospital to get treatment. Again, when dealing with delicate injuries, you should not move him unless using solid and sturdy surface slid under the weight.

Long Term Treatment

Depend on the severity of the damage, a dog may take up to six months recovery time. After your veterinarian treats the injury on your dog, it’s your job to continue caring for the injury during the following time.

If your pet’s injury is not severe, your vet may prescribe painkiller. If it is severe and requires surgeries or stitches, you’ll have to keep the stitches sterile. There may be discharge such as puss from the stitches after several days and you’ll have to clean them.

It’s also necessary for you to limit your pet’s physical activity during the recovery time so the stitches won’t open accidentally. If your pet is put in cast, physical activity that is too extreme and too soon after the accident may hurt him more.

Finding your pet lying helplessly on the floor after a fall is no doubt terrifying and traumatizing. However, it’s not time to stare in disbelief and denial. You have to act fast to assess the damage and decide what your next action is. Perform first aid to keep the damage minimal.

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