How do I transport my dog in an emergency?

Written by Carla Murphy MRCVS
May 28, 2024

If your pet becomes ill or has an accident it can be a very stressful and frightening situation. Getting them to the vet for treatment quickly is the main priority. However, transporting an injured dog is not always easy. Here are some tips and consideration to keep you and your pet safe and calm during the journey to the clinic.

Keep calm and call ahead

It’s important that you stay calm, remember your pet will pick up on your anxiety. Contact your veterinary practice immediately – they will often ask you some questions about your pet. It could be things like “Is your pet having difficulty breathing?” or “Can your pet walk ok?”. It’s important to calmly answer these questions as first aid advice can sometimes be given over the phone. This can help make your pet more comfortable during transport. It also means that the veterinary team can prepare for your arrival. They will be able to get the appropriate equipment and medications ready to treat your pet when you arrive at the clinic.


If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then forward planning for any emergency is essential. This should include speaking to a neighbour or friend that could give you a lift if required. If you are unable to get a lift, often pet-friendly taxis or pet ambulances are available to transport your dog in an emergency. It’s worth having a check what is available in your area and having the phone numbers in your mobile.

Careful movement

When lifting or moving a sick or injured pet into your car it is very important to do this as slowly and as gently as possible. Always keep in mind that frightened or painful pets can react by biting or scratching. It is best to try to avoid moving their head, neck or spine at all if possible.

If your dog can walk, then a short non-extending lead is ideal to get them slowly too and from the car. Secure them in the car with their dog seat belt, or in their crate as normal.

If they are small enough to fit in a secure pet carrier then this can be used, and it is especially good if your pet is unable to walk. Ensure that the carrier is secured in the car so that it can’t fall between the seats etc, but that you can still see your pet inside to ensure that their condition is stable.

If your dog is big, then they can be carried on a large strong blanket or duvet. This requires multiple people to do the lifting. Ideally one other person should also support and monitor the head and neck position.

The journey

Whatever method is used it is always beneficial to have another person as well as the driver in the vehicle. This allows one person can monitor the patient. The other person can concentrate on driving safely to the veterinary clinic. Your dog needs to be transported safely but quickly to the veterinary clinic. Once there they can receive appropriate medical care and further assessment.

When you get to the clinic, park as close as is safe and one person can let reception know that you have arrived while the other person can stay with your pet to keep them calm.

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