How To Stop Dogs From Fighting Each Other

Two dogs on leads sniffing each other

Dog attacks can be terrifying and knowing what to do (and what not to do) is very important and may even save your life (or someone else's).

Steps to take to stop a dog fight

Here's what to do if your dog attacks another dog, or is victim of a dog attack:

  1. Do not break apart the dog fight with your bare hands - use water
  2. Get your pet to the vet immediately
  3. Don't cuddle your pet
  4. Don't remove any penetrating objects
  5. Don't use home remedies to try to treat your pet
  6. If your dog is unconscious and doesn't have a heartbeat administer CPR
  7. Transport your pet to the vet - things you need to know

 

1. Do not break apart the dog fight with your bare hands - it is likely you will be bitten.

As emergency vets we have seen plenty of dog fights where the owner has been hurt in the crossfire while breaking up a dog fight. This can even be from your own dog  because a dog cannot distinguish you, their beloved owner, from the other animal; or, out of pain from injury or illness.
 
Our vets recommend using water to break up a dog fight. Water is almost always accessible - and if you're a dog owner out on a walk make sure to take a water bottle with you so that you're always prepared. 
 
Pour water over your dogs' head to provide a distraction from their target. If a hose is in reach, you can also use this -try to avoid hosing directly down their throat to avoid choking.
 
Others have suggested that pulling on the dog's lead will help to break the dogs apart, however current research suggests this is not only unhelpful but could hurt your dog. If a dog has a hold of another's skin, the damage could be made worse while tugging on a lead and causing the skin to rip apart.
 

2. Get your pet to the vet immediately

 
When the dogs have ceased fighting, do not delay in getting to the vet to have your pet seen immediately. Dog wounds can be deceiving and are often described as 'the tip of the iceberg' - that is, the wounds you see on top are not indicative of the damage that has occurred underneath. Read this blog for more information about the dangers of ignoring this important step.
 

3. Don't cuddle your pet

As mentioned above, your pet may be in a lot of pain. So while it's in our nature to want to soothe and comfort our fur babies, it is not recommended to give your dog this kind of attention.

The reason for this is that when a dog is in pain, stress reactors are released within the dogs body, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. Even though your touch would be calming and soothing under normal circumstances, your dogs senses are heightened as they have just been attacked. Allowing your dog some space as they go through these different senses is important and so is your job of getting them to a vet to be seen straight away.

Try to focus on steps 4 - 7 instead of comforting your pet as this will more than likely save their life.

4. Don't remove any penetrating objects

You may be tempted to remove penetrating objects like fragments of nails, teeth or skin, or to clean the wound to remove dirt and dust. Dogs have over 330 varieties of bacteria that can be transferred from the mouth to the skin and inside the body so it is important to leave this up to your vet.

Removing penetrating objects that may have impaled your pet in the crossfire of a dog fight (for example, maybe your dog has stepped on a sharp nail or the fight happened in a thistle ridden bush) would cause your dog a lot of pain, pain that you won't be able to manage without anaesthesia and pain relief.

The dog may feel threatened and even want to lash out at you from the pain they are experiencing from the dog fight and the penetrating object, therefore it is important to get to the vet quickly so they can make a full assessment and help your pet.

5. Don't use home remedies to try and treat your pet

As explained above there are over 330 varieties of bacteria in your pets mouth, and your dog will be in a lot of pain after being attacked. Home remedies such as ice packs, essential oils, medicines, potions and lotions should not be used and could do more harm than good. It is important not to wash your pet as well. 

The best thing to do is to get your pet to your local vet and have them assessed by a vet. 

 6. If your dog is unconscious and doesn't have a heartbeat administer CPR

If your dog is unconscious (that is, not responding to touch or sound), isn't breathing, and you can't feel a heartbeat, it's important to administer CPR straight away. 

There is some risk performing CPR on your pet, but the benefits of starting CPR early outweighs the risk of trauma, and learning how to give CPR to your pet can be life saving.

Read more here for full instructions on how to give your pet CPR.

7.  Transporting your pet to the vet

There are five things to remember when transporting your pet to the vet:

1. Communication - make sure you have your phone on you and the phone numbers of your nearest vet and emergency hospital.

2. Minimise handling & handle your pet with care - don't force your pet to lie down, but gently encourage them, and avoid rough handling or restraints as they might cause further injury.

3. Minimise your pets movement - treat your pet as though they have a spinal injury. 

4. Drive with care - avoid sudden breaking or acceleration, slow down at turns.

 

For more information on all aspects of dog attacks, including how to prevent dog attacks, visit our handy guide.

If your pet is ill or injured, contact your local vet immediately or your closest Animal Emergency Service hospital.

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