By: Dr. Hilary Slaven
Aaaaaah, welcome to the end of spring. Waking up to sunshine and birds singing just makes us want to jump out of bed, put on our flip flops, jump in the car and get out of the house. This beautiful weather combined with other activities such as baseball, end of school events, graduations, weddings….Life gets pretty busy this time of year and often we are in and out of the house a lot.
Now think about Rascal, your favorite furry friend. He also loves this weather. He loves that everyone seems so much livelier and he doesn’t want to miss out! When you’re outside, he’s running around the yard and following your family members around because he wants to be part of the action.
As usual, I’m sure that you can see where I’m going with this. You read the title of this blog. I’m pretty transparent.
And maybe…It’s happened to you, or someone you know.
I swear we see this a lot, so I’m going to give you the theory: As we hurry into the car and exit the driveway, our minds are often on the upcoming task (or, at my house, my mind is on getting three kids buckled in). Rascal, in his excited state, is running around the car, gets underfoot, and as we exit, gets hit by the car.
There are lots of variances on this scenario, but there you have it.
We see enough hit-by-car cases that veterinarians abbreviate it to “HBC” — and the presentation to us can be so variable. It is not uncommon for the animal to be in shock (a state of low oxygen to the tissues). These animals are often not in a normal mental state, can have pale, sticky gums, low body temperature, and can even be laying out on their side without responding to voice and touch. It’s a scary thing and an emergency situation.
Let’s talk about a plan to handle such a situation.
Step 1. Stop and assess. Is the dog conscious? Is the dog able to walk? Is there any active bleeding?
Be very careful when touching an animal immediately after trauma. Even the ‘best-behaved’ dogs will bite when they are hurt, especially if they are disoriented or in a shock situation (their brain is not receiving enough oxygen to think properly). Get help from another adult as quickly as possible. If there is any active bleeding, make a quick bandage from a medical kit or, in a pinch, a clean rag, towel or t-shirt and duct tape.
Step 2. Call your veterinarian. They will help to guide you through the situation and will likely ask you to come in to the clinic for assessment. If they know that you are coming in, then staff can be prepared to quickly start treatment for your pet.
Step 3. Carefully move the pet onto a towel or blanket and transfer to a vehicle for transport. Get help for this and, again, be very careful not to get hurt by the pet, who might bite with any pain during movement.
Once you have made it to the emergency facility, take a breath of relief that you have made it to the clinic and your furry friend is now in the hands of the veterinarian and staff. After assessment, the veterinarian will brief you as to the medical situation and give you a plan to best move forward and care for your pet.
Next time: What should go in a first aid kit for my pet? (Alternate title: “A First Aid Kit for my Dog? That’s a Thing?!”)