If your dog is hit by a car you're bound to be distraught and in a state of shock, but knowing what to do could give your pup their best shot at a speedy recovery. Our Somerset County emergency vets explain what to do if your dog gets hit by a car.
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 pet. Knowing what to do if your pup gets hit by a car can help to ensure the best possible treatment outcome and may help to keep you calmer during the incident.
You are bound to feel emotional if your dog has been hit by a car but it's important not to panic. Keeping a clear head will make it easier for you and may help to calm your pup. Dogs are very in tune with human emotions and pick up cues from their owners on how to feel or react. If you stay calm it will help to prevent your pooch from panicking.
Call The Emergency Vet Nearest You
Call your primary care veterinarian or, if it’s out of hours or you're away from home, contact your nearest 24/7 animal emergency hospital. While 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're on your way. The veterinary professionals handling your call may give you some advice on how to deal with your dog's injuries and how to prepare your pet to take them to the veterinary clinic.
If You Are a Driver & It's Not Your Dog
Call the police or animal rescue, let them know what has happened, ask them what they recommend you do, and follow their instructions. In most cases, you will be asked to remain at the scene of the accident until help arrives. Also if the pet owner is not around (if you can do so safely) check the dog for ID. Dog tags may show the owner's phone number as well as the dog's name, or the number of the dog's regular vet.
Handling a Frightened or Injured Dog
If your dog has just been hit by a car they are likely very frightened as well as injured. Hurt and frightened animals 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 if possible. While many people view a muzzle as punishment it will not hurt your dog and may be the only way to get your pup the help they need without injury to yourself or others.
Keep the Dog Safe & Comfortable
If the injured dog is in the road, and if it is safe to do so, move the pup off of the road and into a safer location. 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 significantly.
Communicate Calmly With The Driver
The person driving the vehicle is bound to be shaken up by the incident. Remain calm and request their name and contact information. 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 roads.
In dogs that have been hit by a car, the most common injuries are scrapes, cuts, and broken bones. More serious accidents can result in head trauma and internal injuries such as internal bleeding.
If your dog has cuts or scrapes that are bleeding cover the wounds with a clean cloth and apply pressure to halt any bleeding.
If broken bones are a possibility try to keep your pup 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 pet to the nearest animal emergency hospital while keeping the limb still.
Keep your dog wrapped up warmly. Do not give the dog any food, drinks or medication since this could interfere with treatment, or cause further health issues.
At The Veterinary Hospital
Any dog that has been hit by a vehicle, even if there are no obvious signs of injury, should be examined by a vet. Although your pet may appear to be fine, they may be suffering from internal injuries.
When you arrive at the vet's office the emergency team's number one priority is going to be stabilizing your pup's condition. Once your pet is stable they will begin diagnosis of injuries and treatment.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Based on an assessment of your dog's injuries, there are a number of tests your vet might use to diagnose, monitor and treat your pup. Some 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 dog may require intravenous fluids to counteract shock, pain medications, and antibiotics. Hospitalization, surgery or specialized treatment may also be necessary in some cases.
Once your pooch is well enough to head home your veterinarian 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 pet's recovery can be monitored and changes can be made to your dog's treatment if necessary.
Paying For An Emergency Trip to The Vet
Beyond the immediate stress of dealing with your injured pet, the idea of emergency vet bills can make the situation doubly stressful. Pet parents 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 smart thing to do. As well as helping to pay for immediate emergency veterinary care, many pet insurance policies will also cover medications or physical rehabilitation after your pet returns home.
Speak to your vet to find out if pet insurance coverage is a good idea for your dog.
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.