While your dog or cat may seem very graceful and sure-footed, they can suffer and get injured in a fall. Even cats with their so-called "nine lives" can get injured if they fall from high places or on a hard surface. Dogs often slip and fall on stairs and other slippery surfaces, and small dogs can get injured if they jump or are dropped from your arms. Here are some signs that your pet may have fallen as well as first aid and follow-up care for serious injuries.
Signs That Your Pet Had a Fall
Animals are really good at hiding their injuries, so if you didn't actually see the fall, then you must look for the signs. Limping, lethargy, difficulty breathing, and stiffness are all signs that your pet may have fallen. If your pet has internal injuries, then he or she may also refuse to eat and may whimper or cry out. If they have a head injury, then you may see them acting dizzy and vomiting.
First Aid for Pets Who Have Fallen
Look for bleeding and attempt to stop and cover up wounds with clean bandages. Bleeding from the ears, mouth, or nose could be a sign of a head injury indicating that your pet needs immediate emergency treatment. Keep an eye on his or her breathing for signs of broken ribs. If the ribs or spine appears injured, try to limit their movement, but don't do anything that causes them to fight or struggle against you. Transport pets with suspected broken ribs or spine very carefully with as little movement as possible.
Follow-Up Care for Pets Who Have Fallen
If your pet has had surgery or a cast, then your veterinarian will give you a set of instructions for follow-up care. Wounds must be cleaned and redressed regularly, and you will need to prevent your pet from licking the surgical area. Your pet may also have a restricted diet until he or she recovers. With casts, make sure the toes aren't getting swollen and keep the cast from getting wet or dirty. You may have to use a cone if your pet is attempting to destroy the cast.
Both dogs and cats can be injured in falls, so it's important that you prevent future falls. While this is often not completely possible, especially with cats who like to climb on everything, there are some things you can do. Try this out: make sure screens on windows are secure, reduce slipperiness on stairs and other surfaces, and block or place a barrier so that your pet can't climb up to unsafe areas. If your pet has fallen and it appears that he or she is injured, then take your pet to an animal hospital immediately.