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Top 10 Dog and Cat Injuries

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

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.

6. Eye Trauma

These can range from mild (corneal scratches and abrasions) to bad (corneal ulcers) to severe (perforations and globe rupture).

Dogs are more prone to tears – especially from cat claws. Cats are often seen for scratches.

If your pet is blinking or tearing excessively or doesn’t want you near its eye, get it checked out. Griffenhagen says preventing eye injuries is a challenge because “even in play, dogs lead with their eyes, whereas cats know enough to lean back and keep their faces out of things.”

7. Cruciate Ligament Ruptures

The cruciate ligament provides stability to the knee. If your dog is holding its leg up or toe-touching at best, get it checked out immediately.

“It’s very painful and dogs will rarely sit still long enough for the knee to heal itself,” says Charles Livaudais, DVM, a senior clinician at Kildaire Animal Medical Center in Cary, N.C.

Dogs that have been treated for such injuries should avoid rapid changes of motion, such as jumping up and down from heights.

8. Lameness/Back Trouble

Small dogs with long backs -- such as dachshunds, corgis, and basset hounds -- are prone to these injuries, particularly if they jump down from a bed or chair, which can cause a slipped disc.

Symptoms can range from pain to total paralysis. Weight management is critical.

Try to train them to use a ramp. And get them checked out quickly. “If the dog has paralysis, corrective action needs to be taken as quickly as possible,” Livaudais says.

9. Torn or Broken Nail

Don’t let your dog or cat’s nails get too long. Your pet might slip or tear the nail and “they bleed like crazy,” Livaudais says. If this happens, your veterinarian will probably need to trim the nail beyond the crack, and this often requires sedation.

If you nick your pet’s “quick” while trimming nails, apply styptic powder, baking soda, or even flour to help the blood coagulate or “cake.” If bleeding doesn’t stop in five minutes, head to the vet.

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