Just as it happens in humans, dog hit by car injuries can be quite serious, requiring prompt veterinary care to prevent the injuries from becoming potentially life threatening. If your dog was hit by car, you are likely concerned about your dog and wondering what to watch for and what to do. To play it safe, your best bet is to take your dog to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment for any potentials injuries. Following is information about dog hit by car injuries provided by veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec.
Dog Hit By Car Injuries
Always get veterinary help after any dog hit by car accident, even if the dog’s injuries seem minor or respond to first aid.
What may appear to be no more than frightening, such as a seemingly small bump from a car, can quickly turn into a life-threatening emergency.
Below, we have described some of the most common dog hit by car injuries.
Fractures in a Dog Hit by a Car
The most common dog hit by car injury is fractures. The most commonly broken bones are the femur, pelvis, jaw and spine. The extent of the injury can vary from a barely visible crack to a complete shattering of the affected bone. Generally speaking there are three main types of fractures:
- Simple fractures – the break is not visible but it causes pain and swelling.
- Compound fractures – the break is obvious because the bone sticks through the skin.
- Complete fractures – the broken bone separates into more than two fragments.
The clinical signs of bone fractures include pain and localized swelling. In a long bone, the clinical signs include the inability to bear weight on a leg and deformity with shortening of a leg.
Some fractures can be realigned and simply splinted with a cast while others need surgical correction with metal plates, pins, wires, screws or even external devices called fixators.
Muscle Sprains in a Dog Hit by a Car
Muscle sprains are commonly observed in dogs that have experienced less severe collisions. Although they are not considered emergency, if left untreated, muscle sprains can lead to lameness and consequently – reduced mobility. The symptoms include:
- Inability to move the affected limb.
The treatment is based on splinting the leg and using anti-inflammatory medications. Sadly, in more complicated cases, a surgical approach is necessary.
Lacerations in a Dog Hit by a Car
Although quite frequent seen, lacerations are rarely dangerous. However, they need to be thoroughly cleaned and bandaged. Depending on their depth, some lacerations require stitches. If stitches are needed, the affected dog must be sedated.
A Ruptured Diaphragm in a Dog Hit by a Car
The diaphragm is the dome-shaped sheet of muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavity. Traffic accidents can easily result in ruptured diaphragm muscle. Although there may be no visible external injuries, the rupture causes a loss of negative pressure in the chest cavity and immediate lung collapse. Affected dogs suffer from breathing difficulties. A ruptured diaphragm requires surgical reparation through an incision in the abdominal wall.
Spinal Injury in Dog Hit by Car
Traffic accidents often cause spinal injuries. Spinal injuries can affect other parts of the body as well as the spine. Immediately after a spinal injury, the dog experiences:
- Neck and back pain
- Weakness or paralysis of the legs
- Loss of feeling in the limbs
- Urinary or fecal incontinence.
Dogs with spinal injuries require immediate hospitalization. Some spinal injuries can be surgically fixed. Unfortunately, some spinal injuries have irreversible consequences.
Fluid in the Lungs in a Dog Hit by Car
An accumulation of any fluid between the pleura (the two membranes that cover the lungs and line the chest cavity) is known as pleural effusion. Car accidents usually cause blood to build up in the chest – a specific condition called hemothorax.
Dogs with hemothorax show the following signs:
- Impaired breathing (taking short, rapid and labored breaths)
- Standing with extended head and neck
- Bluish lips and gums.
Dogs with hemothorax require urgent treatment – draining the accumulated blood with either a catheter or a needle.
When moving a dog that has been hit by a car you need to take great care. This is because rough handling can cause pain and further damage.
When transporting your dog to the veterinarian in a car or other vehicle, let the dog walk to the vehicle if it is able to do so, otherwise, carry it. Take extreme care when lifting a badly injured dog. Always support the back. Extra support should be provided for dogs with the following injuries:
- If there is a chest injury, lay the dog on the injured side, so that gravity will keep any blood seepage within a damaged lung. This will enable the injured lung to absorb oxygen as efficiently as possible and so maintain the oxygen supply to the brain.
- If the dog has a fractured leg, keep the limb supported in a raised position.
- If the dog has suffered a head injury, transport it with the head higher than the hindquarters. This will help to prevent any increase in pressure inside the skull from bleeding or swollen tissues.
Once the dog is inside the vehicle, let it find a position in which it can breathe comfortably. Make sure that the dog will be restrained and supported during the ride. If you are transporting it in a box or other container, put soft padding, such as blankets around the animal’s body to keep it warm and still. If you have a helper with you, ask this person to sit next to the dog and hold it still.
The Cost of Treating a Dog That Has Been Hit by Car
Having your dog treated from being hit by a car can be quite costly. However, the exact extent of the cost varies based on the severity of the acquired injuries. If your beloved canine baby has been simply glazed by a slow-speed travelling car, a routine veterinary examination is enough to rule out potential injuries.
Unfortunately, if your dog was hit with full force of the moving car and it is unable to move or unconscious, the veterinary care cost can significantly increase – up to several thousands of dollars.
The survival rate of dogs hit by cars depends on two factors: the severity of the sustained injuries and the dog’s overall health status prior to the car accident.
About the Author
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. She currently practices as a veterinarian in Bitola and is completing her postgraduate studies in the Pathology of Domestic Carnivores at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia.