This advice does not substitute a proper consultation with a veterinarian and is intended only as a guide. We recommend you follow all advice as given by your veterinarian and contact them immediately with any concerns. You must follow medications as dispensed by your veterinary clinic and monitor your pet closely during their recovery period noting any changes and contacting your veterinary clinic as needed.
After being hit by car it is important that you take your pet for a veterinary examination as soon as possible, even if it appears to have recovered fully as you can not establish underlying internal injuries such as heart rhythm changes.
What to do if your pet is hit by a Car
If you see an animal on the road or find your own pet hit by a motor vehicle it is important to ensure your own safety before attending to the animal. Apply your hazard lights and asses the danger in the situation, you are no help to your pet injured yourself. Approach the animal slowly talking in a calm voice, they will be scared and even the friendliest animal will bit if in pain or scared. If possible put a blanket over the animal and assess them for injuries before moving them and travelling to your closest veterinary clinic.
Common injuries resulting from hit by car accidents
- Open wounds – these may be bleeding and a bandage/pressure will need to be applied to reduce blood loss.
- Bone fractures – these may be open and easily identifiable or could be internal such as your pet’s ribs or spine, stabilise the break if you are able. If possible move your pet on a flat solid structure such as a board – the ‘false’ boot of your car or for sale sign on the street can be ideal. This will help to reduce any further injuries to the animal’s spine.
- Severe bruising – muscles may be damaged and severe bruising resulting in haematomas may occur.
- Heart abnormalities – a sudden blow to the chest can result in altering your pet’s heart rhythm, this will need to be assessed by a veterinarian.
- Internal Injuries such as hernias, damaged organs such as burst bladders and bruising in the lungs.
What is a shock?
Shock had many definitions. It is a complex systemic or whole body reaction to a number of situations. These include acute loss of blood volume such as haemorrhage, heart failure and over causes of decreased circulation (e.g severe and sudden allergic reaction and heat stroke). If not treated quickly and effectively, systemic shock may cause irreversible injury to body cells and it can be fatal. Generally all hit by car animals will be experiencing some degree of shock.
How do I recognise shock?
Signs include rapid breathing which may be noisy, rapid heart rate with a weak pulse, pale (possibly even white) mucous membranes (gums, lips, under eyelids), severe depression (listlessness) and cool extremities (limbs and ears). The dog or cat may vomit, or toilet. Shock requires immediate emergency treatment.
Pets that have been hit by a car or are in shock need veterinary treatment as soon as possible, this may include IV fluids, monitoring, radiographs, surgery, pain relief, antibiotics and wound care. Treatment plans will differ dependent on the injuries and type of pet, it may also be ongoing however the first 48 hours post accident are the most critical.