Click on Picture below for information on handling an injured fox prepared for NFWS
by Samantha Bloomfield
Bsc MA VetMB MRCVS
Healer Do No Harm
Under the veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 no person is allowed to make a diagnosis or
practice as a veterinary surgeon unless included on the veterinary surgeons register.
However if an emergency arises and there is no vet available immediately it is permitted
for a lay person (you or I) to perform first aid in order to preserve the life of
a patient until expert veterinary help can be sought.
Rules: Airway (clear mouth/nose/throat of mucus, blood, blockages and foreign matter)
if not detrimental to remove these.
Breathing: Is it? Chest movement? Type of breathing? (If in doubt check by holding
small mirror in front of the nose/mouth and see if it mists up).
Never muzzle if there are injuries to the nose or mouth or difficulty in breathing;
If you have to muzzle only use a strong plastic mesh type one so that the fox can
vomit without choking.
Circulation: If possible check colour of gums ( they should be a healthy lightish
ham pink colour). Also, if possible check the capillary refill time of mucous membranes.
The easiest place is the gums, press down with a finger on a patch of the gums to
'bleach it white' then wait and see it go back to pink in a healthy animal. This
should almost be instant (ie. 2 seconds). If it is any longer than this it could
indicate 'clinical shock'.
Colour of mucous membranes to be aware of:
Pale whitish pink - shock
Bluish purple - Starved of oxygen / respiratory failure
Yellow (gums and Whites of eyes) - Jaundice / liver damage
Brick red - Severe infection leading to blood poisoning
On all occasions when one is called out to a collapsed , wounded or injured fox we
should expect some degree of shock. Indications that an animal is in shock include;
a) Pale mucous membranes. b) Shivering. c) Skin cold. d) Rapid breathing or shallow
breathing. e) Rapid or weak pulse. f) Pupils dilated. g) Apathy & weakness.
The first thing to do is attend to any problems with breathing and or haemorrhage.
The fox must be kept still and where possible in a horizontal position., this ensures
effective circulation. At all times keep the fox warm and dry. Cover with light blankets
or jacket to conserve body heat A sheet of bubble wrap or a space blanket are certainly
worth keeping in your first aid box. A hot water bottle can be used but be careful
not to exceed normal body temperature.
In short the rules of shock are as follows;
• Place fox on its side with head extended.
• Elevate the hindquarters using pillows or towels.
• Stop any obvious bleeding by applying pressure with an absorbent pad.
• Prevent loss of body heat by wrapping the fox in a warm blanket.
• Transport the fox to the nearest vet immediately. If the fox is in deep shock;
keep it cradled with limbs elevated above the heart.