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If your dogs sleep with you on the bed, chances are you will have had one fall off the bed at some point. Although it’s easier for smaller dogs to get hurt, do not underestimate the ability of a big dog to fall just as hard from a bed, even though they do not fall as far. The size and age of your dog will also have an impact on whether they have any injuries. But, in every case you are the “first responder” to lend a helping hand.

Common reasons why a dog falls off the bed

  1. They roll off the bed while sleeping
  2. Puppies may try to jump off the bed and get hurt
  3. Playtime between young dogs gets a bit rough and dogs push each other off the bed
  4. Older dogs who may be losing brain function can also become confused and slip off the bed
  5. Some dogs have poor eyesight and misjudge how far they are from the edge

What happens if my dog falls off the bed?

The vast majority of the time that a dog falls off the bed, they will be a bit surprised, but otherwise fine. But it is still up to you to make a quick examination to make sure they aren’t injured.

Our veterinarian writer has also compiled an article for when someone accidentally drops their dog, which will have similar outcomes. You can read that article here: I dropped my puppy: (How to check your puppy)

The first thing you can do is check for any external injuries.

Is your dog bleeding?

If they fell on a sharp object or hit a furniture piece at a specific angle, they could have cuts, nicks, and scrapes. Stop the bleeding by applying pressure using a clean towel.

Remove any debris that is visible and clean the wound with warm water and a soft cloth.

You can add some Epsom salts to the water to prevent infection in the wound—one level teaspoon (5ml) of salt to two cups of water. Apply antibacterial ointment or antimicrobial hydrogel to the wound. A bandage can be wrapped around the area if it does not hurt your dog or restrict their movement.

However, if you cannot stop the blood from flowing out of the open wound, you will need to seek emergency veterinary care. Deep cuts and gaping wounds will most likely need stitches.

If there is blood coming from your dog’s mouth, nose, eyes or ears seek veterinary help immediately. If the blood is due to a cut or scrape, try to clean it with a clean, damp cloth (this might be easier to do with an ear or nose wound compared to a mouth or eye wound).

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Be very careful when dealing with any injuries around the eyes and mouth area, as many ointments might be toxic to dogs. It is safest to just use warm water and a soft cloth until it can be properly cared for by the vet, if it did not start healing within one to three days.

vet checking dog

Internal injuries from a dog falling off the bed

Internal injuries will be harder to pinpoint. You may need to look for signs. Is your dog struggling to get up or walk? Are they crying or whimpering?  If one of their limbs seems twisted or broken, it’s best to get to the vet as soon as possible.

If you suspect your dog has broken something, keep them as still as you can. Do not try to “pull or push” the limb in an effort to fix it. 

A broken jaw is not an obvious injury to a dog. If your dog struggles to chew normally or cries when trying to eat, they might have an injured jaw.

If nothing seems twisted or broken, softly stroke them from neck to tail, as well as each leg, to see if any areas are more sensitive than others. If they show any signs of discomfort or yelp when you touch a specific area, make sure to keep an eye on it to see if it gets better.

Usually sprains and bumps will heal by themselves and you should see this happening within a few weeks.

Your dog should take it easy and avoid hard exercise for roughly six weeks if they have a sprain. Taking your dog for therapeutic exercises is also highly recommended.

If the area in question gets worse within the same day of your dog falling off the bed, you should seek veterinary help immediately. For example, your dog cries more and more and the swelling increases or changes color, or if your dog breathes faster than normal.

What if my dog fell off the bed and is shaking?

A dog that shakes after falling off the bed could be due to shock, especially in older dogs who may be becoming confused and anxious. You can cover them with a blanket and comfort your dog by gently speaking to them to help them calm down. Offer your dog some fresh water, and a favorite treat could also help.

You can see products that can help your dog reduce anxiety in this article.

If the shaking is violent and your dog is lying on the floor or foaming from the mouth, they could be going into shock or having a seizure. Remember this is highly unlikely in the average dog falling off the bed.

Still, in this worst-case scenario, you need to stay calm and take control of the situation. Lift their head up and give them support to make sure they can breathe.

It’s important that the airway stays open. You can hold them upright by standing over them, lifting them from under the chest area, and facing the same way. Hold them tightly but do not squeeze them. Cover their eyes with a soft scarf or clothing piece to prevent their eyes from getting hurt.

What if my dog fell off the bed and hit their head?

A dog that fell off the bed and hit their head needs special attention. A head injury should not be toyed with as it could lead to more serious conditions later down the line if not treated correctly.

Try to take note: where on their head did they get hurt?

  1. If there are no external wounds, try to find the exact spot by gently touching the area and checking your dog’s reaction for signs.
  2. Check their pupils. A difference in size could point to head trauma.

The effects of a head injury are most clearly seen in behavior. Look out for the following changes:

  1. Is your dog suddenly acting clumsy?
  2. Are they disorientated?
  3. Are they having trouble with normal functions like walking, eating, barking or doing their business?

Any changes in normal behavior shortly after falling off beds and hitting their heads could indicate internal injuries and needs to be assessed by your vet in order to apply the correct treatment.

Usually, if the injury to the head is not detrimental, your dog might show signs of slight discomfort but overall they will behave normally. Assist them by easing the pain by holding an ice-pack on their heads for a few minutes.

If you believe they are in any pain, it’s good to see the vet for a full check-up and appropriate pain medication.

What if my puppy fell off the bed

Puppies are known to be clumsy and their depth perception is still developing, making puppies the prime candidates to fall off beds.

The steps you can take are very similar to the ones mentioned above, but the main differences to keep in mind are that:

a) Puppies are still developing and prone to injuries that can damage the proper growth of cartilages, bones, and joints.

b) They might cry far more even if they aren’t really hurt.

It’s important to make sure your puppy’s growth is not compromised by the fall and although they recover more easily in general, keep a close eye on their mobility. Any sign of limping or pain after the fall should be investigated.

If your puppy fell on their head, they could have a skull fracture which will not be visible. If they stumble or want to fall asleep, it could point to a brain injury.

What if my old dog fell off the bed?

Remember that old dogs can have a decline in brain function, and so they are more prone to confusion and anxiety if they accidentally end up on the floor. They may also be losing their sight and so could be at more risk of falling off beds and furniture. What’s more, aging dogs can be more fragile and prone to injury.

If your old dog falls off the bed, be sure to follow the steps outlined above to comfort them and look for signs of damage. As your dog continues to age it may be necessary to try to keep them off furniture for their own safety.

Final word

Prevention is always better than cure, thus it is a good idea to get doggy bed-stairs if you have a dog who needs to regularly get on and off the bed. You can also build your own doggy stairs by assembling furniture or boxes. Just remember to put books in the boxes so that they do not fall over! You will most likely have to teach your dog to use it by leaving a trail of treats for them. Building a pillow wall around the edges is also a good buffer.

Although it cannot prevent accidents from happening, it will definitely decrease the chances of your dog falling off the bed due to them trying to jump or climb off without support. But if your dog does fall off the bed, just remember to CARE:

     Stay CALM,

     ASSESS the situation,

     REACT accordingly,

     And ESTABLISH a plan of action.