What To Do If Your Dog Gets Hit By a Car

Dog being examined.
Some trauma from being hit by a car may not be obvious without a physical examination.

Getty Images/Erik Freeland / Contributor

Traffic can be dangerous for animals of all kinds. Even if you are the most conscientious owner, unfortunately, accidents can happen. If your dog has been hit by a car, no matter how scary or upsetting the incident may be, it's important to try to remain calm to prevent your dog from further trauma and, in serious cases, to give them the best chance of survival.

Get Your Dog to Safety

If your dog is still in the street or an area where it is in danger of being hit by another car, carefully move it to safety. The manner in which you move your dog will depend on how badly it is hurt and where it is hurt but you should take care not to get bitten.

If your dog can still walk, help it get into your vehicle. If it cannot walk, gently lift your dog while doing your best to keep it lying flat. Support its head and don't allow the legs or back to bend unnecessarily in case there is trauma. Using a folded blanket or the trunk parcel shelf can be a good method.

Evaluate The Seriousness of the Injuries

If your dog is in the middle of the road, the obvious priority is to get it out of further harm's way as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it is a good idea to evaluate your dog first to better establish what types of injuries they may have and whether emergency first aid may be required.

If they have a wound that is bleeding profusely, the first thing you will want to do is apply constant pressure to stem the flow of blood. If they have a broken limb, you will need to be extremely careful with how you move them.

If they aren't breathing, CPR could even need to be administered. If you don't know what to do, stay as calm as possible and call your vet - they may be able to talk you through the type of action you need to take.

You will need to conduct rescue breathing and chest compressions. Learning how to perform doggy CPR in advance is a sensible exercise.

Use a Makeshift Muzzle or Blanket to Prevent Bites

Even the most placid dog can lash out unexpectedly if they are in extreme pain or fear. Providing it won't cause any obstruction to their breathing, it may be a good idea to fashion a makeshift muzzle out of gauze or fabric. The last thing you want is to get bitten, especially as this could impede your efforts to help the dog. Alternatively, you can place a blanket or towel over your dog's head and body while you are moving them, again being careful not to impede their breathing.

Transporting Your Dog to The Vet

Make sure your dog is secure and as comfortable as possible. If you can keep them within eyes view or have someone else in the back to supervise them this would be better.

Although it is distressing, you need to be able to focus on the road if you are driving.

Place your dog on a thick blanket if possible. This will help keep them warm and comfortable and will also absorb any bodily fluids if you don't have a car seat cover.

After a trauma like this, it is possible your dog may go into shock. The best thing you can do is minimize any movement and keep them warm until you reach the vets. You may want to comfort and coddle your dog, but, in these circumstances, it is best to just sit beside them quietly and speak in soft soothing tones.

Always Seek Immediate Veterinary Attention

Even if you don't think your dog is hurt and you don't see any wounds, it is still a good idea to bring your dog to the vet. Many times, injuries are internal and may not be immediately obvious without having a thorough physical examination performed along with X-rays and/or an ultrasound.

If it is safe to do so, call your veterinarian's office while you are on the way or have another person let them know you are en-route with a dog that was hit by a car. This will allow the veterinary team to prepare for your arrival in order to provide the quickest and most efficient response possible.

If your dog cannot walk on its own and it is too large to safely carry by yourself, request help from the veterinary team once you arrive. They will know how to handle your dog in a manner that causes the least amount of possible further harm, pain, and distress while also keeping themselves safe.

Once your dog is in the hands of the veterinary team, they will fully assess your dog's injuries. Depending on the type of trauma, your dog may need oxygen therapy, X-rays, an ultrasound, surgery, or simply medication to help prevent infection and ease pain.

Some dogs that are hit by cars, unfortunately, do not survive due to internal injuries and bleeding, while others will make a full recovery. The prognosis will depend entirely on the type of trauma endured from the car.

Get The Driver's Information

If you can, the best time to gather information about who or what hit your dog is when the accident occurs. More often than not, a dog runs into the street and is not purposely hit. In the event your dog was purposely hit or was hit on your property while it was off-leash, having the information of that person and their vehicle will allow you to potentially take legal action against them if necessary.

Of course, the priority is getting your dog to safety and assessing their injuries, so, if possible, another person should gather this data.

Laws vary by city, state and country regarding who is at fault for hitting a dog with a car, so the best thing you can do is simply gather the information so that you can deal with that at a later time.

The name of the individual, their phone number, license plate number, and a few photos of the scene can be easily and quickly gathered, even if you don't think you'll need it in the future.