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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. 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.

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.

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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 often seen result of impact. The risk of internal injury must not be ignored when collision with a vehicle occurs.

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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. Your dog’s airway will be examined, probably with an endoscope, which is a lighted flexible tube.

To determine if your dog has any internal injuries, the best thing is to get radiographs (x-rays), CT scan, and ultrasound, and 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.

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Treatment of Vehicular Trauma in Dogs

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

Broken Bones

Broken bones will be stabilized and then a cast or splint will be applied. This may also include surgery in some cases to place screws, pins, or plates for stabilization and treat internal bleeding which sometimes accompanies broken bones.

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 internal bleeding will require surgery to determine the cause and perform the repair. Intravenous fluids and blood transfusions are also 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.

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.

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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.

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Vehicular Trauma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Labrador Retriever

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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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

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 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

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Labrador Retriever

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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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

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 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

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French Bulldog

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Eight Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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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

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this venue is not set up to handle urgent emails. 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

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Labrador Retriever

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Injured Leg

Hind legs are injured. Cuts and swelling on right leg and foot. Left leg injured, unsure if its broken.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this venue is not set up to handle urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them if needed.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Dashhound

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

I got my dog in April at the shelter and they said they think he got hit by a car. When I got him I took him to the vet and got x rays and they said that I should amputate his leg but I noticed that over the past couple months my dog went from limping and being very scared to go on walks to running faster than me, jumping on the bed and off the bed , and being very very active and happy. But yesterday I took him to the park and he was on my lap when I was leaving the parking lot and he jumped out the car. He’s limping again. What can I do to help him now until I take him to the vet Nextmonth.

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, they may need occasional pain medications, and It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Bailey

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Border collie mix

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3 Months

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Mild severity

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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?

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Tank

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Pit bull

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8 Months

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Serious severity

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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.

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Pepper

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Australian Shepherd

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15 Years

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Critical severity

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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.

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D

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Rottweiler

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6 Months

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Critical severity

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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.

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Riley

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Pit bull

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5 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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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

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