What’s the best course of action to take if your pet (or another animal) is hit by a car? Knowing what to do in an emergency can make a big difference in the outcome. Here, we offer a list of best practices to follow if you ever find yourself in this situation. Note: This article is for informational purposes and cannot cover all scenarios; always call your vet or an emergency vet for first-hand, real-time advice in an emergency.

Here are the steps to take if your dog or cat is hit by a vehicle:

  1. Stay calm
  2. Handle them gently
  3. Communicate with the driver
  4. Check your animal
  5. Call the emergency vet
  6. Get to the vet quickly and safely

1. Stay calm.

Seeing or experiencing an animal getting injured by a vehicle can be traumatic. What’s important to remember is that your calmness can go a long way in helping them. The more calm you are, the better decisions you will make and the quicker you’ll be able to get your pet the care it needs.

Animals sense and rely on our emotions, so remaining calm can help prevent them from feeling additional levels of agitation.

2. Handle them gently.

Be extremely careful when moving, handling or touching your dog or cat. Because they were just traumatized, they may be irritable, panicked, angry or in shock. This could cause them to become defensive or aggressive, and this could put you or someone else at risk of being bitten. Keep your hands away from a dog’s head and mouth while handling, if possible. You can use a blanket or towel to help move them if it makes it easier.

Being calm will help your pet realize you’re here to help, but be aware they may become aggressive following vehicular trauma.

3. Communicate with the driver.

Remember to stay calm. If the driver is present, or lets you know about your pet’s injury, get as much information as possible. The more information you have on the event, the better, as it may help your emergency vet better understand the situation. Drivers are not obligated by law to pay for vet bills.

Find out everything you can regarding the event so your vet is well-informed to make proper treatment decisions.

4. Check your animal.

There may be clearly visible signs of injury, depending on the significance of the vehicle impact. Check your dog from head to toe for signs of injury. Outward damage shows clear signs of physical injury, whereas sometimes internal damage and internal bleeding may not show signs externally. Remaining calm while assessing the situation will help provide a calm delivery of information to your vet.

Your dog may be panicking during this time. Consider putting them in a small, safe room or crate to help them avoid injuring themselves any further.

5. Call the emergency vet.

As soon as you know what happened, call an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. Provide all the details you’re able to compile, and be thorough in your communication with the emergency vet. This is why we always say to have our number saved for the event of an emergency, time is of the essence.

Knowing where you’re planning to go if something like this happens helps to save time.

6. Get to the vet quickly and safely.

The sooner you get to the emergency vet, the greater the chances of your dog making a full recovery. Dogs are tough and often hide their pain, and you may not think an impact was too serious if they seem fine. You may not realize how serious the animal’s internal injuries really are. Even if you think the dog wasn’t injured too badly, it’s always safe to take a trip to the emergency vet for a full examination to be safe.

Always get it checked out.

These are a few important reminders for what to do if your dog is hit by a car, but every situation is different. The bottom line, be calm, get as much information as possible for your vet, and get to your vet as soon as humanly possible. This will give you and your buddy the best chance of making a full recovery.