If your pup has been hit by a car you're bound to be upset and in a state of shock, but knowing what to do could give your dog their very best shot at a quick recovery. Here our Orange County emergency vets explain what you should do if your dog gets hit by a car.
Accidents Happen When You Least Expect Them
Regardless of whether your dog unexpectedly runs out the door, takes off during a walk or escapes from your yard, getting hit by a car is a very serious situation for your pooch. Knowing what you should do if your dog gets hit by a car may help to ensure the best possible treatment outcome for your pet and might help to keep you calmer during the incident.
No question, you will be highly emotional if your dog has been hit by a car nonetheless it's important not to panic. Staying calm will make it easier for you to think straight and may help to soothe your dog. Our canine companions are very in tune with our emotions and pick up cues from their owners regarding how to feel or react to a situation. By staying calm you will help to prevent your pup from panicking.
Call The Emergency Vet
If you are near to home and the accident happens during regular business hours call your vet or, if the incident occurs after hours or on a weekend or holiday contact your nearest 24/7 animal emergency hospital. Although most emergency veterinary clinics are available for walk-ins it is always better to call ahead to let them know what has happened and that you are on your way. The veterinary professional handling your call may give you some advice on how to deal with your pup's injuries and how to prepare your dog to bring them to the animal hospital.
If You Are a Driver & It's Not Your Dog
Contact the police or animal rescue, let them know what has happened, and ask for instructions on what to do. Typically, you will be asked to remain at the scene of the accident until help arrives. If the pet owner is not around check the dog for ID (if you can do so safely) . Dog tags often show the owner's phone number as well as the dog's name, or the number of the dog's regular veterinarian.
Helping a Frightened or Injured Dog
After being hit by a car your dog is bound to be very frightened as well as injured. Animals that are scared or frightened will often lash out at people trying to help them. Provided that your dog isn't vomiting it's a good idea to muzzle your pet. While some people view a muzzle as a form of punishment it will not hurt your dog and may be the only way to get your pet the help they need without injury to yourself or others.
Keep the Dog Safe & Comfortable
If if you are able to do so without risking your own safety, move the injured dog off of the road. This can be done by using a blanket or board as a stretcher.
Keep your injured dog warm by wrapping a blanket around them being sure to leave their nose and mouth uncovered so that they can breathe freely. If your dog is showing signs of breathing difficulties and if you can do so safely, remove your pet's collar or loosen it.
Communicate Calmly With The Vehicle Driver
The person driving the vehicle is bound to be shaken up by the incident. It is important to keep in mind that in most places if a dog is hit by a car liability sits with the pet owner for not keeping the dog off of the road. Remain calm and request the drivers name and contact information.
Assess The Dog's Injuries
When a dog has been hit by a car, the most common injuries are scrapes, cuts, and broken bones. More serious accidents can result in head injuries and internal bleeding.
If your dog has cuts or scrapes that are bleeding cover the wounds with a clean cloth and apply pressure to try and stop or slow the bleeding.
If broken bones are a possibility try to keep your pet as still as possible and gently move them onto a hard surface such as a wooden board so that you are able to transport your pup to the closest veterinary emergency hospital.
Keep your dog warm and do not give your pet any food, drinks or medication since this could interfere with treatment, or cause further health issues.
What Will Happen at The Veterinary Hospital
Any dog that has been hit by a car, even if there are no signs of injury, should be examined by a veterinarian. Even though your pet may appear to be fine, they may have internal injuries which are not immediately obvious.
When you arrive at the vet's office the emergency team's number one priority will be stabilizing your pup's condition. Once your dog's condition is stable the veterinary team will begin diagnosing your dog's injuries and treatment.
Diagnosing & Treating Injuries From Car Accident in Dogs
Based on an assessment of your dog's condition, there are a number of tests your vet might use to diagnose, monitor and treat your dog. Some of the most common diagnostic tests used when a dog has been hit by a car include blood tests, x-rays or ultrasound scans.
Stabilizing and treating your pet may require intravenous fluids to counteract shock, pain medications, and antibiotics. Hospitalization, surgery or specialized treatment could also be necessary in more serious cases.
Once your pup is well enough to go home your vet will provide you with detailed instructions for home care. Follow your vet's instructions carefully and be sure to return for a follow-up appointment so that your dog's recovery can be monitored and changes can be made to their treatment if required.
Paying For An Emergency Trip to The Vet
As well as the immediate stress of dealing with your injured pet, the idea of emergency veterinary bills can make the situation twice as stressful. Pet owners are required to pay for their dog's treatment as soon as the service is provided. This means that carrying pet insurance or putting aside a small amount each month specifically for emergency vet bills can be a good way to prepare for the unexpected. As well as helping to pay for immediate emergency care, many pet insurance policies will cover medications or physical rehabilitation after your pet returns home.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.