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Healthy Pets

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Top 10 Dog and Cat Injuries

How to avoid these common injuries in your dog or cat.

2. Being Hit by a Car

Trauma can range from minor to fatal, and many injuries can be hidden. To prevent such accidents, your pet should be on a leash or under your control at all times.

If you see or suspect a car has hit an animal, stabilize any obvious injuries by wrapping it with something soft like a towel, and have the animal evaluated by a veterinarian. Many injuries, such as bruising of the lungs, can worsen. Diaphragmatic tears or ruptures can go unnoticed by owners for days to weeks.

“By the time the owner knows something is wrong, it may be too late,” Griffenhagen says.

3. Dog Bites

When larger dogs fight, wounds are usually obvious: skin lacerations, bleeding wounds, and bruising. Cuts and wounds should be covered with something clean. If there’s active bleeding, apply gentle but firm pressure.

When small dogs and cats get bitten, the wounds are often not visible – but there may be crushed ribs, broken bones, and abdominal organ damage. To prevent further damage, transport them “with as little movement as possible,” Griffenhagen says.

4. Poisoning

Many plants, human medications, household chemicals and even common foods – grapes, onions, and chewing gum – can cause illness or death. All should be kept far from your pet.

If you think your pet has eaten something poisonous, call a pet poison control helpline. Don’t force your dog to vomit unless told to do so, Griffenhagen says.

5. Cat Bite Abscesses

Unlike dog bites, wounds from fighting cats can easily lead to abscesses. That's because cat bites are like holes from hypodermic needles -- the tissue closes over the wound and traps bacteria and contaminants.

Abscesses frequently show up around the rear end of cats in multi-cat households or in indoor/outdoor cats. They can swell, break open, and be very painful, but are typically cleared up by flushing and with antibiotics. Preventing the cat-on-cat aggression that caused the problem is tougher.

“Sometimes the animals need to be separated for a period of time and re-introduced slowly, just like a new cat would be,” Griffenhagen says.

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