dog with an injured paw

How To Be a Muttgyver: Tips, Tricks and Tactics to Deal with Dog and Cat Emergency Situations

Reading Time: 6 MIN

Unleash your Inner Muttgyer!

This class is the life-saving bridge between the “uh-oh” and the vet clinic.  Only about 2% of pet owners have actually taken a pet first aid class. So what if you don’t have a pet first aid kit? No problem! This program will help you to be able to render aid or stabilize your dog or cat so you can get them to the vet clinic


#1 Priority: Your safety … and your sanity!

If your dog gets hit by a car, you can’t just run out of the middle of the road because then you are in danger of getting hit as well. Likewise, if your cat gets into a construction zone, you can’t just run out since you could step on something electrical or a nail and get injured yourself. Then, you won’t be able to help your pet. 

#2 Priority: Warning! Any pet who is in pain can and will bite!

Pain brings out the ugly in us. Our body’s in survival mode. Cats and dogs don’t speak English, so they need to do what they need to do for self preservation– which may include biting you!

Check your Emotional State

When your pet gets into a situation where they are injured, you first need to be in the present moment – you can’t change the past, but you can do a lot to help in the present.

  1. Do your best not to say your sorry.
  2. Do not engage in baby talk with your pet
    1. The dog or cat can get nervous and lose confidence in you if you don’t have confidence in yourself.
  3. Speak calmly, consistently and distinctly.
    1. “You will be fine, Casey,” and “I got you, Kona,” are a few examples of soothing words that you can calmly say to your pet.
  4. Dogs and cats can smell your emotional state, so again, remain calm so as to not freak them out. 

Approaching an Injured Pe

  1. Stop, breathe, focus
  2. Survey your surroundings
  3. Approach slowly
  4. Stay calm and confident
  5. Avoid direct eye contact
  6. Protect your fingers 
    1. Keep your fingers together
  7. Call for help

Be a pet detective

You need to be looking, listening, smelling and safely touching your pet for clues so you can convey the situation to your vet. Help your vet help your pet; be as specific as possible.

You can freak out…later! When you have safely transported your pet to the vet team, you have permission to freak out. It’s a traumatic experience when your pet is injured so to cry and be worried is completely normal.

Muttgyver Tip #1

How to make a Muttgyver muzzle if you don’t own a muzzle or you aren’t near yours:

Use a restraint on the dog when they are injured and conscious, otherwise they can bite you as you try to tend to their wounds, like a leg wound or bleeding torso.

Use a nylon, 6 foot leash (practice and make it fun with treats), then make a U-shape in the air with leash, then a loop, and grab it by your hands, fingers together, go behind the dog and put it around the mouth/nose area. Loop around twice. Tie in a bow at the back of the neck so you can easily remove it. You can also use a shoelace as a muzzle or a drawstring on a hoodie.

What about dogs with no muzzle? Well, you would normally buy a basket muzzle. Don’t have one? Use a leash and thick towel or sweatshirt for this muzzle. Grab a towel and fold it. Lay leash on towel horizontally, then tie towel and leash around the neck of the dog so the can’t lean down and bite you. Similar to a cone. 

cat in a cat carrier

Cats are different from dogs. They have claws, can jump 7 times their height, and have a flexible spine. Cats are not pleasers– and you can wrangle a cat by scruffing them. Use an empty box to put your cat in if they are agitated. Use a top loading carrier if you plan on getting one. Use treats as your practice carrier training!

Towel wrapping a cat can make it easier to get an agitated cat into a carrier or box. Place the towel over the cat and block their peripheral vision. Put the towel under the belly and place it in top loading carrier. Leave the towel in the carrier over your cat because it smells like them and gives them a hiding place. This will comfort them. Then, place on the floor on the back seat as your transport them to the vet. 

Muttgyver Tip #2 

How to Stop Bleeding on an Injured Pet

Pets can die from bleeding out in 5 to 7 minutes if serious its a serious enough wound. So act fast and follow these steps!

You can use a sock to stop the bleeding. For example, your dog ripped their nail on a hike. Take a spare sock and make a makeshift wound cover. Use a shoelace to tie off the sock. Carry dog to the car with injured log part above the heart so the blood doesn’t pump out.

NEVER use hydrogen peroxide on a dog or cat. Hydrogen peroxide is used to induce vomiting in case they ingest a toxin. But should not be used to clean a wound because it can damage healthy tissue, doing more damage than good. The safest thing to do to clean a wound is to spritz with water, or use a clean sponge to absorb a torso wound. Keep “GAP” in mind when dealing with a bleeding pet: Gravity, Arteries, Pressure.

Muttgyver Tip #3

Aid for Injured Limbs

Stabilize an injured limb so it doesn’t get worse and get them to the vet safely. Splints have three parts: cushion on the joint itself (folded newspaper, bubble wrap, magazine), a stabilizer (Paint stickers, emery board, a water bottle), wrap it all together (shoe lace, bandana, etc).

You really do have things right within reach to help with an injured pet!

Muttgyver Tip #4

If your dog is hit by a car, use a blanket or Ikea bag as a gurney. Place your car, with flashers on, behind you and your injured pet so you don’t get hit.

Muttgyver Tip #5

Chilly Dog or Cat

Check the gums– should be bubble gum pink. Gums will turn blue if they have hypothermia. Use warm water to wash away deicing chemicals. Don’t rub off– that will make it worse.

Is your pet shaking? Hug, don’t rub your pet. Frost bite may be happening to their skin. The friction from rubbing them could cause more damage.

Muttgyver Tip #6

Hot, Hot Dogs and Cats

On a 77 degree day, the temperature on the sidewalk or asphalt is actually 125 degrees. Your dog could get second degree burns on paw pads in 2 minutes. Pay attention to signs of overheating. Gums will turn bright red. They will pant. They will sweat through their paw pads. Poop bags can turn into a makeshift water bowl. Dip each paw into a bowl of cool water– this will reduce body core temperature. Never give them cold or icy cold water. The pet can go into shock. Ice, Ice, not nice, baby. Dab inner flanks with cool wet towel!

dog drinking water out of a bowl

Muttgyver Tip #7

Relief for Burns 

Aloe is great. Dog or cat sunburns, snap an aloe plant and put green goop on them and get to the vet. Do not put burn cream on pets as you are en route to the vet. Squirt cool water on the burn site, monitor vitals, and lightly wrap the area. 

Muttgyver Tip #8

The Buzz on Insect Stings and Bites. 

If your dog or cat got stung by a bee or wasp in an area with a stinger– don’t use tweezers. Use a credit card and in a spatula-like movement, scrap out stingers and use baking soda and water paste to relieve the sting on the area. If your pet is allergic and their throat is closing– what can you do? An antihistamine will work – use a gel cap form, tape a safety pin on it and place gel on the pocket on the side of the mouth. Dithehydramene is the one and only safe ingredient. No pain reducers – acetaminophen is very very dangerous to dogs and cats. Don’t give any medicines made for kids– xylitol is dangerous for dogs and cats and is found as a sweetener for kid medicine!

Muttgyver Tip #9

Do Weekly H2TChecks

One of the best things you can do is Head to Tail wellness checks, weekly:

  1. Start at the eyes– clear no discharge
  2. Nose and touch it– needs to be damp or dry
  3. Gums and teeth– tartar? No doggy breath
  4. Look and smell the ears- should not smell bad, excess ear wax, ear mites
  5. Check range of motion to see if they have arthritis
  6. Base of tail– check flea and tick and check butt
  7. Stand back and look at the coat
  8. Do these weekly checks, one on one, in a quiet area

Check out pet health and safety books here!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rachel Mattox

    May I please have directions and a picture of how to make the Ikea bag emergency sling discussed in the training? That is ingenious! 🙂

  2. Amber W

    This would make a good class. A couple of times I wished I had visuals. The entire bee section I wanted a demonstration. An amazing article!

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