Does Your Dog Need to Go to the ER After a Dog Fight?

By Catie Wark
Published on: January 4, 2021

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One of your worst fears as a dog owner is that your dog will be hurt by another dog. It is so hard to trust other people’s dogs, and, sometimes, even your own. Reactive dogs can show very subtle behavioral signs of aggression, and an unexpected fight could break out in seconds. The best thing you can do for your dog is to go on trusted playdates and avoid the dog park, but accidents can even happen at home!

If your dog does get involved in an altercation, make sure to get the personal information from the owner, and safely contain the dog who attacked. Always ask if the dog is up to date on their rabies vaccine. If the dog is running at large, call your local animal control. If the other owner is at fault, they may pay for your dog’s care, but they are not required by law in many areas unless enforced in court.

When assessing your dog’s physical injuries, here are some signs that indicate you should make your way to our emergency vet. 

 

Excessive Bleeding

If you see any puncture wounds on your dog that seem to be bleeding, put pressure on them with a clean towel or cloth. The blood should start to slow within 5 minutes. If your dog still seems to be bleeding, they will need further veterinary care. This could involve a bandage, sedated sutures, or even surgery to close the area. 

 

Deep Wounds

If your dog’s wounds are so deep that you can clearly see inside it to tendon, bone, or anything else, they will need to be seen by a vet. A wound that is open can easily be infected and needs to be taken care of by a professional. 

 

Signs of Pain

If your dog is exhibiting signs of pain, you should see a vet, even if the wounds may not be visibly alarming. Pain medication is important for the wellbeing and welfare of your dog. Signs of pain may include: reduced appetite, depression, anxiety, restlessness, increased heart rate or respiratory rate, and/or vocalization such as whining. Dog in severe pain may lash out, snap, or bite, so be very cautious. 

 

Difficulty Breathing

If your dog is ever having trouble breathing, an ER visit is necessary. You do not want to end up having to do CPR on your dog. Check their mouths for any pale gums—you do not want them to lose consciousness. Pets with bite trauma of the chest or neck may end up with critical respiratory difficulties. If your pet is breathing heavily, or faster than 40 breaths per minute, or if their gums are pale/blue/purple you should seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

 

Unable to Walk

If your dog is limping or unable to walk, they need to see an emergency veterinarian. Dogs can be stoic and hide their pain very well. Until a trained veterinary team has assessed them and performed an exam and/or diagnostics, you may not know the extent of the injuries yet. 

Many serious injuries seen with dog fights are internal and dogs can have critical injuries with no outward signs of trauma at all. Anytime a dog has been in a fight they should see a veterinarian to look for pain/wounds or signs of serious internal injury. If you are unable to see a vet the same day, you can clean small wounds with mild soap to keep it clean until you get vet care. Keep in mind, many human antibacterial topical ointments are toxic to animals, especially if ingested, and should only be used under the care of a veterinarian. 

Expect some behavioral changes from your dog as well, as many may be fearful of other dogs after an intense fight. It doesn’t hurt to see your local family veterinarian the next day just to make sure they are okay. You know your dog best, so go with your gut feeling. If your dog needs medical attention, call Evolution Vet right away at 720-510-7707.