How to avoid common pet injuries

It’s not unusual for our furry friends to suffer some kind of injury. They might take a nasty fall or eat something they shouldn’t – which could also mean an expensive trip to the vet.
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Updated 07/06/2022
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Updated 07/06/2022

Our aim is to help you make better informed decisions. That’s why iSelect’s content is produced in accordance with our fact-checking and editorial guidelines.

Find out more about how we make money.

View our Privacy Policy.

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Fortunately, there’s also a lot you can do to keep your pet protected. And in this article, we’ll look at how you might go about preventing some common injuries.

Animal attacks

Cats and dogs are naturally curious animals, but this isn’t always to their benefit. If your pet bounds up to some strange animal, or wanders off into their territory, then a fight could break out. The aftermath here can be particularly nasty: bites wounds, abscesses, even poisoning if a snake attacks them. As such, it’s quite important that you protect your pet from such hazards. To do this, you might:

  • Set up a safe area: Keeping your pet indoors or in an enclosed, outside area might be a good call – especially if you’ve noticed the odd possum scurrying about your yard.
  • Keep your dog on a leash: When taking them for a walk, a leash might keep your canine companion from getting into scraps with other dogs.

Car accidents

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for cats and dogs to wander off onto a busy road if they’re left unsupervised. When this happens, they run the risk of getting hit by a car and sustaining major injuries. This could mean broken bones, internal bleeding or worse. In such cases, it’s best to get your pet to the vet as soon as you’re able. However, to stop this from happening in the first place, you might:

  • Supervise your pet: In addition to setting up a secure area for your pet, you’ll want to look out for them whenever they’re playing outside. That way, you can always guide them back to the house if they’re ever in danger of running into traffic.
  • “Boundary train” your pets:. This might involve setting up a perimeter around the yard with flags. You can then walk your pet up to this perimeter, but no further, and reward them with treats for staying inside this boundary.

Foreign object or toxic ingestion

As any pet owner knows, you have to constantly keep an eye out for what your dog or cat eats. Sharp bones, needles and even hair bands1 can all be on the menu – depending on the animal. Medications and household chemicals can also wreak havoc on your pet’s stomach. This includes aspirin, cleaning products, insecticides and rat baits, among other things. To help protect your pet from these hazards, you might:

  • Remove unsafe items: Make sure that any household chemicals or sharp objects are placed out of reach for your pet. In addition to this, you’ll want to ensure your pet can’t get into the trash. That way, they’re less likely to swallow bones or any other dangerous scraps.
  • Look out for any symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhoea and cries of pain can all be signs that your pet has swallowed something toxic or harmful. When this happens, you should contact your vet right away for advice.

“High-rise” syndrome

For all their agility, cats and dogs can still hurt themselves when falling from a great height. “High-rise” syndrome simply refers to the injuries they suffer as a result. Studies on this syndrome show that fractured bones2 and thoracic spine trauma3 can be some common injuries – depending on the height from which the animal falls. To avoid such injuries, you might:

  • Watch your pets around balconies and open windows: Falls commonly occur around these areas, so you’ll want to keep your pets away from them.
  • Use barriers and other safety measures: Placing pet screens on your windows or safety nets along your balcony may also help prevent your pet from falling.

Dehydration and heat stress

Hot weather can quickly take a toll on your pet. If you notice that they’re panting, listless or refusing to eat, then your animal buddy might not be getting enough fluids. To prevent this from turning into a bigger issue:

  • Don’t keep your pet locked inside a car: As noted by the RSPCA in South Australia4, leaving any animal locked inside a car for even a minute can expose them to heat stress – which can potentially be fatal.
  • Place multiple water bowls around the house: This will ensure your pet always has access to drinking water. Providing a water dish outside can also help with this.

Cruciate ligament injuries

This injury is most commonly seen in dogs, though it’s not unheard of in cats or other animals. Basically, the cruciate ligament joins the bones above and below the knees for many household pets. Tears and ruptures may occur when the animal is running and makes a sudden change in direction, twisting the ligament. As a preventative measure, you might:

  • Watch your pet’s weight: According to one study5, obese dogs are four times more likely to rupture their cruciate ligaments. This is generally the case for other animals as well, since the extra pounds put more pressure on the cruciate ligament.
  • Provide regular exercise: This will help to keep your pet in good shape and decrease the risk of a cruciate ligament rupture.

Insect bites and stings

Chances are that your pet loves playing in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, this can also expose them to a number of insects with painful stings and bites. Bees, wasps, spiders and ants are just some of the bugs your pet might encounter. In some cases, these insects can cause serious allergic reactions – even anaphylactic shock. To protect your pet against this, you might:

  • Check your yard for infestations: If you find any nests, you may wish to hire a professional to clear them out.
  • Regularly check your pet for ticks: Ticks can latch on to your pets and paralyse their muscles. This is why you should always check your pet for ticks every day. According to RSPCA Queensland6, if you find a tick on your pet, you should remove it with tweezers or a tick removal system at once.

How might pet insurance help?

If your pet ever gets sick or injured, they might require urgent veterinary treatment. However, such treatment may also come with a sizable bill. However, pet insurance might be able to help with some of these expenses. And at iSelect*, we’ve partnered with Choosi to help you compare pet insurance policies from a range of providers online.


  2. Vnuk, Dražen, et al. "Feline high-rise syndrome: 119 cases (1998–2001)." Journal of feline medicine and surgery 6.5 (2004): 305-312.
  3. Gordon, L. E., C. Thacher, and Amy Kapatkin. "High-rise syndrome in dogs: 81 cases (1985-1991)." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 202.1 (1993): 118-122 & High Rise Syndrome in Dogs & Cats, Schwarzman Animal Medical Centre, 18 May 2022.
  4. RSPCA South Australia
  5. Adams, P., et al. "Influence of signalment on developing cranial cruciate rupture in dogs in the UK." Journal of Small Animal Practice 52.7 (2011): 347-352.
  6. RSPCA Queensland

Updated Last: 10/06/2022