Car Accidents


First Aid

  1. If you have witnessed the event, make a mental note of exactly where on the body the animal was hit, whether the animal was simply hit or was driven over and whether the animal was thrown.  Often, even in very serious cases, an animal will get up and attempt to walk away.  This does not necessarily mean the animal is not severely injured; it is an instinctive response that makes the animal try to escape danger. 
  2. Approach the scene cautiously.  Alert oncoming traffic by waving a cloth.  If traffic has not stopped, safely take the animal to the side of the road before continuing.  If you do not have time to assess how best to carry the animal, based on the injuries, simply drag the animal by the fur on top of the body, trying to keep the body as still as possible.  Otherwise, use the transport techniques in the section Carrying and Transporting Techniques.  Take care not to worsen any obvious fracture or limb displacement. 
  3. If the animal cannot move or appears to have a spinal injury, place the animal on a flat board for transport  If you cannot find a board, use a blanket or shirt (slide the animal onto it and have one or two people hold it on each side as stiffly as possible).  If the animal cannot move, there may be a broken back or severe internal injuries and the animal may be in shock. 
  4. Assess and note the following:  position of the animal; presence of blood, urine or feces (the veterinarian will need this information when you get to the hospital). 
  5. Does the animal have an open airway?  Is the animal breathing?  If not, is there a heartbeat or pulse?  If the answers to any of these are no, see CPR
  6. If alert and standing up, observe whether the animal is limping or favoring one side,  Look for blood, open wounds, bruising or limbs hanging in abnormal positions. 
  7. If the animal is bleeding, see bleeding

Any dog or cat who is hit by a car should be taken directly to a veterinary hospital.  Many internal injuries caused by the trauma may not show up for 48-72 hours after the incident.  These can include slow leakage of blood from internal organs, rupture of the urinary bladder or other internal organs and air or blood leaking into the chest cavity.  Because the animal's body is attempting to initially compensate for the trauma, early shock may be difficult to identify. 

Tips:  To make car travel safer for your pets, use a carrier (especially for cats), or check out the special doggie seat belts and harnesses available at your pet supply store.