Jump to section

What is Vehicular Trauma?

If your dog is hit by a car, bring him to a veterinary care professional right away but be careful moving him. Try to place him on a sturdy surface such as wood or cardboard to keep his body still so you do not cause more injury. He may have a spinal injury so it is important to keep his back and neck as still as possible. If your dog does not seem injured and he gets up and walks away, it is still a good idea to take him to a veterinarian. Dogs can have internal damage and bleeding that may cause no outward symptoms until it is really serious, and by then it may be too late for successful treatment.

Vehicular trauma in dogs is common in dogs who are allowed to run outdoors unattended. The risk is proven to be higher in those who have not been neutered. For indoor dogs, the risk is low, but even when you keep your dog inside, accidents can happen. Your pet can get out the door, escape his enclosure when let outside, or get away from you while you are walking him. Vehicular trauma is an injury sustained when your dog is hit by a moving vehicle. This may be a truck, car, motorcycle, train, or even a snow plow. The injuries sustained may be minor or life-threatening, depending on the case. Some of the types of injuries you will see in vehicular trauma are broken bones, head injury, internal bleeding, strained muscles, and abdominal or chest injuries.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

Symptoms of Vehicular Trauma in Dogs

The symptoms of vehicular trauma depend on which part of the body is injured in the accident. Some of the most common signs of vehicular trauma include:

  • Limping
  • Whining or yelping when touched or when walking
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Bruising
  • Facial or head injury
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding from anywhere on the body
  • Shock (pale skin, weak pulse, rapid breathing, cold extremities)

Types

  • External injuries

    include cuts, bruises, scratches, and bleeding anywhere on the body. You should continue to monitor your dog carefully and watch for signs of shock or swelling of the abdomen, which may be a sign of internal bleeding.

  • Internal injuries

    are the most serious because you cannot see them and they may go unnoticed until they become really serious. Broken bones are the most common injury in vehicular trauma, followed by head/brain injury, internal bleeding, pneumothorax, fluid in the lungs, and shock.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Vehicular Trauma in Dogs

The cause of vehicular trauma is being hit by a vehicle of any kind. The risk increases with those dogs who are allowed to roam outdoors unattended. Injuries ranging from mild to severe can occur, with broken bones being the most frequent result of impact. The risk of internal injury must not be ignored when collision with a vehicle occurs.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Vehicular Trauma in Dogs

The veterinarian will first perform a thorough and detailed physical examination, checking the neck and spine first to look for any sign of fractures or damage to the spine. The examination will include palpation and auscultation of all main organs and muscles with special attention to the abdomen and head, looking for signs of internal injury and broken bones. 

To determine if your dog has any internal injuries, the best thing is to get radiographs (x-rays), CT scan, and ultrasound or possibly an MRI, if needed. Blood tests will be done to check for internal bleeding and shock. A packed cell volume, blood urea nitrogen, and blood glucose are all standard tests for emergency situations such as vehicular trauma.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Vehicular Trauma in Dogs

The treatment for vehicular trauma depends on the type and area of the injury.

Many patients will need intravenous fluids, pain relief and anti-inflammatories. Any superficial cuts will be cleaned and may need to be dressed.

Broken Bones

Broken bones will be stabilized and then a cast or splint will be applied if needed. Treatment may also include surgery in some cases to place screws, pins, or plates for stabilization. 

Lacerations (cuts)

Most lacerations can be cleaned and treated immediately with pressure and a bandage. Deep or serious lacerations may include stitches, which requires sedation.

Internal Bleeding

Any kind of major internal bleeding will require surgery to determine the cause and perform a repair. Intravenous fluids and blood transfusions are also commonly needed.

Pulmonary Damage

In some cases, your veterinarian may need to repair a collapsed lung or drain fluid from around the heart. Any kind of thoracic trauma may require surgical repair and hospitalization. Lung contusions require supportive care as they resolve.

Abdominal Trauma

If your dog has a laceration or hernia in the abdomen, surgery to repair the damage is usually needed right away. This includes any damage to the liver or spleen, or a hernia.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Vehicular Trauma in Dogs

The prognosis of vehicular trauma depends on the severity of the injury and how soon you are able to get treatment for your dog. If you get immediate veterinary care, the chances are good that your dog will be fine. Continue to monitor him for abnormal behavior or appetite and call your veterinary care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Written by Darlene Stott

Veterinary reviewed by: Linda S.

Published: 06/14/2017, edited: 06/10/2021

Vehicular Trauma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

american pit

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

9 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog got hit by a car she didn't get ran over by tire but the car was so low I believe she got drug a little she has what looks like a burn on her stomach ..but she can walk and she pees and poos ..but she is in pain and I can't afford a vet ..how do I know if she has internal damage and what kind of pain killer can I give her

Feb. 1, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Maureen M. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

9 Recommendations

Hi, That may be an abrasion on her belly. The pain may be due to soft tissue injuries (muscles). With internal injuries imaging techniques such as CT Scans, X rays can give a conclusive diagnosis which I think is important especially in cases where internal bleeding is suspect. With internal bleeding, most dogs become anemic, lethargic, lose appetite, and are dull. If not treated on time they go into shock and chances are high it may lead to death. As for pain, anti-inflammatories such as prednisolone, meloxicam, carprofen are ideal. I would advise you to take her to the vet for a check-up just to make sure everything is okay. Good luck

Feb. 1, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

mixed breed

dog-age-icon

Eleven Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

9 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hello my dog was clipped by a car last Thursday. She was taken to the vet a few hours after it happened. She was given an X-ray and had three fractures to her pelvis. Was given doggie ibuprofen and antibiotics. She was peeing blood the day she was hit. It stopped for a few days and in the last day or two she’s started peeing fresh blood again.

Dec. 24, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

9 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. This peeing blood can still be trauma to the bladder. If this is bright red blood, it would be best for a vet to look at her again. Sometimes damage cannot be seen for days after the accident. I would continue giving her pain medication and antibiotics as this will help her heal.

Dec. 24, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

Thirteen Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tympanic Sound On Thoracic And Abdomen

how will i localize the pain of my dog? he is recumbent on one side and responding only by eye movement. increased heartrate, decreased respiratoryrate, normal skintenting, wet nasal mucosa. i can also palpate its spleen, is it normal?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I do not think that treating your dog at home is something that you can do, given your description. Your dog sounds very sick, and should be seen by a veterinarian right away. They will be able to let you know more what might be going on, what treatment options might be able to be given, and what to expect with your dog. I hope that everything goes well and that your dog is okay.

Sept. 29, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

11 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking, Panting, Drooling

My dog was hit by a car on her left side, she has a slight scrape on her face but ran home on her own and does not Yelp/cry when touching her limbs or abdomen.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

11 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Being hit by a car is a very traumatic injury, and internal organs can be hurt. She may just be scared, and that would be terrifying, but if she continues to act the way that you're describing, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to make sure that she's okay and see if she needs any treatment. I hope that she is okay.

Oct. 2, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

Eight Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My dog was hit by a car she was done xray and eveything is normal but she got her one eye almost popped out from her eyes but not totally 60% atleast and has blood around it and she keeps vomitting and with a little blood will my dog survive? I just want anonther opinion

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. With out being able to see her, or her eye, I cannot say whether she will be okay, but it looks like her veterinarian is taking good care of her. I hope that she is okay.

Oct. 14, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bailey

dog-breed-icon

Border collie mix

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Leg

My 3 month old puppy got ran over on accident when we where doing chores yesterday. She’s limping a little and her left leg is swollen. She’s been going to the bathroom like normal and eating normal. What are some side affects when she gets older? Or will she be completely healed?

dog-name-icon

Tank

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Trauma

My dog was ran over by a police officer this morning I heard my dog yelping when I went outside, he was Laying in the road and couldn’t move or get up, I could see his front legs jerking but that’s all the movement I seen, the officer shot my dog, to put it out of suffering but I am now wondering if he could of made it if I had gotten him up and kept him wrapped up until the vet opened or would he have passed away anyways.

dog-name-icon

Pepper

dog-breed-icon

Australian Shepherd

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Broken Rib

Our dog was ran over this morning and she had passed in less than 5 minutes. We think she was hit in the hind quarters. What could have happened that she passed that quickly.

dog-name-icon

D

dog-breed-icon

Rottweiler

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifted

My dog 6 months old crossed the road and was hit by a car he screamed and cried at the spot my fiancé tried to pick him up as we were traumatized my dog bit him Becuase he was in such pain. We took him To the vet and they said Becuase they are a small facility they can not do much if we were to take him out of city he would die on the way as he was bleeding internally all from his mouth his gums were turning white / gray. So they said the humane thing to do would be put him down as he was really in a lot of pain. He was only 6 months old. We just don’t know what to do.. whether if we should’ve taken him out of city. But if he died on the way idk. His lungs were full of blood and he broke his ribs.

dog-name-icon

Riley

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

No Appetite

My 5mth old blue nose pit bully was recently hit by a car. She got up and walked over to the yard and laid in the grass. We took her to the vet, she jumped down from my husbands arms and went to playing with another dog that was there. Their were no broken bones. She does have a knot on her forehead as well as a small cut. With a small cut on her back leg. Since being home from the vet she hasn't walked or barked. She makes these crying noises sometimes but thats hit. We took her back to the vet they reexamined her and said that she’s heavily sedated but i know by now that the sedation should have worn off. And she’s still just lying there. We’re giving her soft foods now she barely wants to open her mouth, not to even eat. They gave her Torbugesic Inv 10mg Ketoprofen Injectable Penicillin G-Na+Inj

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

advertisement image
ask a vet placeholder
Need pet insurance?