Lift and Move Your Dog Safely
To Minimize Further Harm

You may need to lift and move your dog at some point before or during first aid treatment so once you've completed the care, you'll need to transport her to your car and then to the veterinarian or emergency animal clinic.

Use the following information to correctly lift and move your dog so that her injuries don't worsen, and you both remain safe.

The first rule in providing first aid to dogs is to move the injured dog only if her life is in further danger from a hazard, such as traffic or fire.

If the threat to your dog's life continues, your first priority is to move her to a safer location before starting dog first aid.

The second rule of first aid is to ask for help. Don't try to do it all yourself.

This is especially true when trying to move the injured person. You could end up injuring yourself by trying to more her on your own. The same holds true when treating your dog.

Now isn't the time to be shy. Ask for help. However, sometimes there isn't anyone around to help, so you'll have to lift and move your dog, and treat her, on your own.

Move Your Dog To Safety

If she's light enough, or you are strong enough to move her when she's healthy, you should be able to lift and move your dog without risk to yourself.

If she's too large or heavy, or you have limited strength, you may have to drag her to safety.

Grab her front legs and drag her toward you. Be careful not to bend or twist her neck or trunk. This will reduce the risk of (further) spinal cord injury.

If one or both front legs are injured, grab the hind legs. Never drag her sideways (for example, by pulling one front leg and one hind leg).

Smaller Dogs

If your dog is small enough to carry easily, get her to the vet or clinic quickly.

Plan your lift and carry so that you don't injure her more during the trip to the car.

Keep an injured leg on the side away from your body, so that it isn't caught between your body and hers.

Rest her chest on your forearm so that her legs can dangle below.

If her chest or abdomen is injured, stand next to the uninjured side, facing her. Bend down and place one arm below her neck and the other at the top of her hind legs.

Bring your arms together, sweeping her up into your arms. Her chest should be resting on one forearm, her hind quarters on your other forearm.

Remember when doing this to bend from the knees, not the waist. You don't want to injure your back.

If your dog is ill from disease, poisoning, or heat stroke, there is likely little risk of injury, and a greater need for speed. Lift and move your dog as you normally do and get her to the car.

Larger Dogs

If she's too large to carry, you have a few options to help you lift and move your dog to the car.

If she's conscious and seems okay overall but can't use her hind legs, use a blanket or towel to help her walk.

Use the towel as a sling to lift her hind legs while she moves forward with her front legs.

Fold the towel in half lengthwise and run one end under her belly. Grab both ends and slowly lift her.

If you are strong enough to lift with one hand, walk beside her and offer lots of praise and encouragement.

If you need both hands to hold the towel ends, straddle her hind end and lift.

Once at the car, you may have to improvise a ramp to help her up and in, if you don't have the strength to lift her.

If you have an assistant, you can improvise a stretcher. An ironing board, a plank, or a narrow door can serve to help you carry your dog to the car. If possible, add some padding over the stretcher.

If you are in the back country, hunting or camping, make a stretcher with two strong poles and two jackets. Turn the sleeves inside out so that they are inside the jacket.

Zip up the jackets. Run the poles through the sleeves. This creates a double layer of material where the stress from the weight is located.

Lash a small branch or piece of wood to either end to keep the stretcher taut.

Test the stretcher before you lift and move your dog with it. You don't want it to break and drop her to the ground.

If you have no poles, but have more people, you can use a blanket lift. Roll a blanket lengthwise for half its width. Place the rolled half along your dog's back.

With one person supporting the head and neck, turn your dog over the roll onto the unrolled part of the blanket. Unroll the rest of the blanket.

Have each person grab the blanket. One person should hold it near your dog's head and neck (to minimize possible spinal cord injury).

Another should hold the two ends at the rear. If you have more people available, have one on either side to support your dog's back and thighs.

Once you are all in position, rise together, bending from the knees, and carry her to your car or a stretcher.

If you're on your own and have only a blanket or towel, pull your dog onto it and use it to drag her to the car.


If you're alone, then you'll have to drive to the emergency clinic. Stay safe. Do not risk your life, and put your dog's at further risk, by driving dangerously.

If you think your dog needs attention along the way, park the car and attend to her, then continue on your way.

Do not use your cell phone while driving.

Your attention will likely be split already.

Calling your vet or another person will only make you less aware of what's happening around you.

Before you leave home or the accident site, call your vet or clinic with details. They will be ready to help you lift and move your dog when you arrive.

If you have an assistant who knows how to drive, have him or her drive for you so that you can attend to your pet.

This person will likely be less emotionally attached and thus will have a clearer head for dealing with traffic.

Unlike in an accident where a human is involved, no medical team will be coming to help you.

You'll need to lift and move your dog to your car, then get her to the vet clinic as quickly and safely as you can.

Practice how to lift and move your dog at least once a year, perhaps on her birthday.

To Dog First Aid from Lift and Move Your Dog