UNITED STATES—Here at Vital Pet Life, we get asked a lot of questions from the public such as: “How often should I bathe my cat?” and “What’s the best wild Alaskan salmon oil for dogs?” to “When can I start giving my puppies and kittens solid food?” But the one question we hope we never get to hear from anyone is “My dog got hit by a car, what do I do?”

While we never want that to happen to your dog or any of your pets, vehicular accidents involving pets, most especially dogs, are a reality. Here are some of the things that you can do just in case the inevitable does happen.

Stay calm

Staying calm and keeping your wits about is the first thing you should do to help your dog or any animal in distress. Animals, especially dogs, can pick up on human emotions and look to us on how to feel or react. The calmer we are, the better it is for the animal.

Call emergency services

Immediately get in touch with the police and emergency services or/and your vet and give your best assessment of the situation. One should also never leave the site, especially if in the unfortunate case that one is the driver at fault. Leaving the dog without calling for help or attempting to provide care is equal to a hit-and-run and open the driver up to animal cruelty charges.

Once you have emergency services on the phone, ask what they recommend you do until they reach the site.

Check for identification

If the dog’s parent isn’t at the scene, check for identification and do your best to contact them (or their vet if listed on the dog tag) to let them know what happened. If the pet parent can’t be reached or if no ID is found, stay and wait for the authorities.

Move to safety if possible

As long as your safety is not compromised, move the injured animal to safety. And since a distressed or frightening animal is more likely to bite, proceed with caution and gently place a muzzle over the dog to prevent any bites. Remember to do this only if the dog is not vomiting. In case a muzzle is not available, you can use gauze, stockings, or any piece of cloth and wrap it gently. 

A blanket or a towel can be used for small dogs – wrap them securely and move them to safety. For larger dogs, you can use a board, a towel or a blanket and slide it underneath to act as a stretcher. Gently move the dog to safety and wait for emergency services to arrive.

The dog looks fine

Safely secure the dog and take it to the vet. If you are the pet parent and your dog somehow looks unscathed, still visit your vet to advise of the situation and let them determine your dog’s condition. After all, it’s always better to be safe and sure than to be sorry.