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What to do if an animal is not responding

Learn how to check whether or not an animal is responsive to you and what to do.
Banner detailing the DR ABC first aid method with R highlighted
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R (Response)

Check whether the animal responds to you. At first, this would be simply talking to them, ensuring you are approaching from an angle they can see you from.

Startling them is likely to make them panic or become less predictable. Talk in a quiet, calm voice and note their reaction to you. A friendly tail wag from a dog or a horse trying to get closer to you is a good sign you can try approaching. If they cower or try to get away from you, you’ll need to proceed with more caution.

If they don’t respond, are they conscious? An animal could be unconscious due to exhaustion, exposure, near-drowning, electrocution, or a seizure. If they are moving erratically but not responsive to you, this could indicate they are having a seizure and need a specific intervention (see Seizures step for more information).

What to do if an animal is unconscious or not responsive

Unconscious animals that are not breathing and have no pulse should have CPR commenced immediately. Provide breaths into the nose and chest compressions depending on the size of the animal. Attending a pet first aid course will usually allow you to practice this process.

Get someone else to drive you and the animal to a veterinarian immediately. If possible, phone ahead so they can set up the equipment to prepare for your arrival.

If the animal is breathing but you aren’t sure why they are unconscious, transport them to an animal hospital as soon as possible. Keep them warm (unless there is evidence that they have been having a seizure, in which case their temperature may already be high), and make small, calm movements. Move them as little as possible in case they have internal injuries.

© Learning Lounge
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Basic First Aid for Animals and Pets

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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