Written by Meghan Glazer, DVM
While families and pets are outside enjoying the summer, we can unfortunately see increased incidence of pets being hit by cars. Here are some things to consider if your pet has sustained a hit by car trauma.
Ensure your Personal Safety
As pet owners, it is our first instinct to run to an injured pet to console and evaluate them after a trauma. Following any injury, but especially a traumatic injury like a car accident, it is important to keep in mind that your pet is confused, painful and certainly upset. A dog or cat that would typically never bite or scratch can have a tendency to do so when scared or injured. Use some caution when approaching your pet. If you need to evaluate or lift your pet, ensure your own safety with an E-collar, muzzle, or blanket if needed.
What to do if there’s an Obvious Broken Bone, or Blood?
We recommend evaluation by a veterinarian. If you see an obvious broken bone, do your best to minimally move this portion of the body. Sometimes stabilizing your pet on a large piece of cardboard, a tarp, sheet, or a blanket can be helpful to prevent the need to directly lift them in/out of the car. Skin wounds/abrasions are common after being hit by a car – unless they are notably bleeding, oftentimes you can leave these open and uncovered until arrival to a veterinarian for evaluation and treatment.
I Think it’s Going to be Okay!
While it is always encouraging to see a pet walk away from a trauma seemingly unscathed, we always recommend having your pet evaluated by a veterinarian after being hit by a car. There are several types of serious internal injuries that can be initially masked by the adrenaline of the injury.
What to Expect When Arriving at an Emergency Veterinary Hospital
With any trauma patient, it is ideal to have an immediate evaluation by a veterinarian – you may hear the phrase “stat triage” upon arrival to the hospital. After evaluation by a veterinarian, it is likely that your pet will receive pain medication if needed, followed by a discussion with your family as to your pet’s injuries (or potential injuries). Potential injuries your pet could sustain from a hit by car trauma:
- Chest trauma – bruising of the heart or lungs, rib fractures, air leakage into the chest space (pneumothorax)
- Abdominal trauma – internal bleeding, ruptured urinary bladder
- Nervous system trauma – traumatic brain injury from bleeding or swelling, spinal trauma
- Fractures or dislocations of long bones or pelvis
- Skin wounds/abrasions/bruises
Just as with any bruise on your arm or leg that gets worse with time, so too can some traumatic injuries, thus close monitoring of your pet will be discussed. Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostics, treatment, or event admit to the hospital after a traumatic injury/hit by car event.
Please call your nearest veterinary emergency hospital as quickly as possible if your pet has been hit by a car or sustained another traumatic injury. Our emergency and critical care staff is available 24/7 to provide care for your pet.