When to Worry About a Pet’s Fall Injury?

It’s a common scenario for pet owners: one minute, our furry friends are leaping around full of energy, and the next, they take a tumble that leaves us fraught with anxiety. Should we just cuddle them and move on, or is it time to rush to the vet? Understanding when a fall is cause for concern isn’t just about peace of mind; it’s about ensuring the health and well-being of our cherished companions.

Detecting Injuries After a Fall

First things first, assess your pet immediately after the fall. Even the most robust-looking dogs and cats can sustain injuries that aren’t immediately visible. Here’s what you should look into:

  • Visible Injuries: Check for cuts, bleeding, or obvious bone fractures.
  • Limping or Reluctance to Walk: This is a telling sign that your pet might have hurt their legs or paws.
  • Discomfort When Touched: If your pet winces or cries out when you touch them, they might be injured.
  • Abnormal Behavior: Is your pet hiding, acting aggressive, or not showing interest in food? These can be indicators of pain or distress.
  • Difficulty Breathing: This can signal a serious issue, such as a pneumothorax, which is air leakage into the chest cavity.

Pet Injury Red Flags

Some symptoms should instantly set off your internal alarm bells. If your pet exhibits any of the following after a fall, it’s time to seek immediate professional help:

  1. Unconsciousness or lack of responsiveness
  2. Severe bleeding or obvious broken bones
  3. Difficulty or labored breathing
  4. Extreme lethargy or uncoordinated movement
  5. Seizures or other neurological signs
  6. Vomiting or signs of abdominal pain

These are indicators that your pet might have sustained serious injuries that require urgent attention from a Poway emergency vet.

Non-Emergency Symptoms to Keep an Eye On

Not all symptoms require immediate panic, but they shouldn’t be ignored either. The following signs might show up hours or even days after a fall, suggesting you should schedule a non-emergency vet visit:

  • Mild or intermittent lameness
  • Swelling in limbs or body
  • Slight discomfort when moving or being touched
  • Minor changes in behavior, such as decreased playfulness
  • Subtle changes in eating or bathroom habits

Monitoring your pet closely in the days following a mishap can help you catch these tell-tale signs of underlying issues.

Diagnosing Injuries in Pets

When you take your pet to the vet for a fall-related injury, the first step will be a thorough physical exam. Depending on the findings, your vet may suggest various diagnostic methods to get to the bottom of the issue.

Here are some common diagnostics you might encounter:

  • X-rays: To check for bone fractures or internal injuries.
  • Ultrasound: Often used for a more detailed view of the chest or abdomen.
  • Blood tests: To rule out internal issues such as organ damage.
  • Physical examination: A hands-on inspection can provide much information about your pet’s condition.

If deeper analysis is required, your vet might refer you to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for more advanced testing.

Dos and Don’ts After Your Pet Falls

Knowing what to do (and what not to do) after your pet has an accident can be crucial in ensuring their safe recovery.


  1. Keep your pet calm and still to prevent further injury.
  2. Contact your veterinarian for guidance on immediate steps.
  3. Check for any external wounds and apply gentle pressure to stop bleeding if necessary.
  4. Maintain a close watch on your pet for 24 to 48 hours for any delayed symptoms.


  1. Try to set a bone or treat serious wounds yourself.
  2. Give human medications for pain relief, as they can be toxic to pets.
  3. Allow your pet to jump or run until a vet has cleared them.
  4. Ignore any changes in behavior or physical condition, no matter how minor they seem.

Post-Injury Care and Observation

After the immediate danger has passed and your pet is back home, you’ll need to switch gears into caregiver mode. This involves not just treating their injuries but also providing a safe, comfortable environment for their recovery.

Here are a few tips for taking care of your pet post-accident:

  • Follow your vet’s instructions for any prescribed medications or wound care to a tee.
  • Create a quiet rest area where your pet can recover without getting overly excited or stressed.
  • Limit physical activity as advised by your vet, even if your pet seems to be back to their normal self faster than expected.
  • Monitor their food and water intake to ensure they’re staying hydrated and nourished during recovery.
  • Stay vigilant for signs of complications, such as infection or worsening pain, and report them to your vet immediately.

Preventing Future Falls

Once you’ve dealt with the aftermath of a pet’s fall, your next order of business is to prevent it from happening again. Ensure your home is safe for a healing pet, and consider these steps to reduce risks:

  • Install pet-friendly stair gates or ramps, especially for homes with elderly pets or those with existing mobility issues.
  • Keep your home clutter-free to minimize the chances of trips and tumbles.
  • Assess your pet’s access to risky areas like balconies, high decks, or steep stairs and secure them appropriately.
  • If you live in a multi-story home, consider placing beds and essentials on one level to limit the need for stair climbing.
  • Regularly trim your pet’s nails to avoid slips caused by overgrown claws.

Accidents can happen, but with a bit of foresight, we can make our spaces much safer for our four-legged family members.

When Revisiting the Vet Is Necessary

Recovery can be filled with ups and downs, so know when it’s time to head back to the vet:

  • If the injury doesn’t appear to be healing
  • If there’s any unexpected change in your pet’s condition
  • If they seem to be in persistent pain despite medication
  • If they start to display new symptoms

Sometimes, a follow-up visit is all that’s needed for peace of mind, or it could be crucial in preventing a minor issue from becoming a major one.

Professional Help Is Just Around the Corner

When an accident strikes and your pet is in need, it’s a comfort to know that expert care is within reach. Your local Poway animal hospital stands ready to offer specialized assistance for all kinds of pet emergencies and injuries. These facilities are not only equipped with advanced medical technology but also staffed by compassionate professionals who understand the urgency and worry that come with a pet’s fall.

Final Thoughts

Seeing our pets in distress can be incredibly worrisome, but staying calm and informed can make a world of difference. From the red flags of serious injury to the appropriate post-accident care, knowing when to worry and when to wait is key to navigating pet fall injuries.

Always keep your vet’s number handy, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice, and give your pet the love and attention they need to bounce back. With tender loving care and a watchful eye, most pets recover beautifully from their unexpected tumbles with their human’s help.