My dog has been hit by a car, what should I do?

Emergencies tend to happen when you’re least expecting them.  Knowing what to do and what not to do can make a difference to saving your pet’s life. Here are some simple guidelines on what to do if your dog has been hit by a car.

1. Stay calm

Although easier said than done, try not to panic. Make sure the accident scene is safe before proceeding to prevent further injury to you or your pet.

2. Call your nearest vet

Phone your regular vet or, if it’s out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or 24/7 hospital. Try to phone ahead to ensure the vets and vet nurses are prepared for your arrival.  Your vet may ask questions such as how the dog was hit, what area of the body appears to be injured and how he is responding.  The vet may give you some advice on how to deal with any injuries and how to prepare your dog to take them to the veterinary clinic.

Image of ambulance for Vets Now article on running over a dog uk law
All motorists are required by law to report accidents involving dogs to the police

3. Handle injured dogs with care

The dog is likely to be scared and in pain.  He may scratch or bite so handle him with care.  Dogs in pain or shock can bite especially when frightened so an emergency muzzle can be made with some bandage or tape to loop over the dog’s nose before transporting or handling.  But only ever use a muzzle if the animal is not having breathing difficulties.

4. Make sure the dog is comfortable

Keep the injured dog warm by wrapping them in a blanket, keeping their nose and mouth exposed. If your dog is having trouble breathing, maintain an open airway by removing the collar, open the mouth and check for any obstructions.

5. Dealing with serious injuries and suspected broken bones

The most common injuries following road traffic accidents are cuts, scrapes, and broken bones. But our emergency vets also see head trauma (concussion) and internal injuries including internal bleeding. You should cover any wounds with a clean cloth and apply gentle pressure to stop any bleeding. If you think there may be broken bones, keep the dog as still as possible and place them on a hard move-able surface such as a piece of wooden board covered with a blanket or the parcel shelf from your car. Never give the dog any medication or food or drink.

6. What will happen at the vets?

Depending on the extent of the injuries, the dog may need to be admitted for tests, monitoring, and treatment.  The vet may need to perform blood tests, x-rays or ultrasound scans to rule out serious internal injuries.  Your dog may also need intravenous fluids (a drip) to counteract shock and will probably be given pain relief and antibiotics.

Image of Vets Now Hospital In Manchester for article on running over a dog UK law
Our emergency vets regularly treat dogs who have been struck by cars

My dog was hit by a car, who is responsible?

In the UK, dog owners are held responsible if their pet is run over by a car. The law specifically states that any person who allows a dog to run onto a road off the lead is guilty of an offence. The owner is also responsible for any veterinary costs and, potentially, for the cost of repairs to the vehicle involved.

Running over a dog UK law

Dogs, as well as goats, horses, cattle, ass, mules, sheep and pigs, fall within the remit of the Road Traffic Act. Therefore, motorists are required by law to report accidents involving dogs to the police.