CANINE AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS
The number-one cause of canine emergencies is automobile accidents. The term used by vets is “HBC” meaning “Hit By Car”. Some dogs in automobile accidents just end up with minor wounds, bruises, or lacerations. Most dogs, however, end up with broken bones and/or other internal injuries. Regardless of how a dog appears to look externally, if he has been hit by a car then he should be examined thoroughly by a vet as soon as possible.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
* The majority of dogs hit by cars are running loose. Keeping your dog on a leash can prevent a lot of unnecessary trauma for pets and owners. Many dogs are run over by their owners as they pull into and out of their driveways. Putting up a fenced enclosure or keeping your dog inside helps prevent this.
* Before you try to help an injured dog, be careful because dogs that are severely traumatized are also scared and in pain. Since they usually do not know what’s causing the pain, your risk being bitten, even if it’s your dog.
* Take a minute to protect yourself by muzzling the dog. You can make a muzzle by using a piece of rope, a belt, your tie, or even a pair of stockings. Start by looping the material over and under the dog’s nose, then bring the material behind his ears and tie.
* Injured dogs need to be transported to the vet quickly but calmly. Moving the dog as little as possible is important, especially with certain fractures. You can try lifting a very small dog with your hands, but using a stretcher is generally necessary for large dogs; a board or large blanket will work. Cover up the dog, roll or lift him onto the stretcher, and ease him into the car. It’s easier if you have someone to help: open both doors and one of you can move backward into the car and go out the other side. It is always a good idea to call ahead and let your vet know you’re on your way.
(NOTE: An injured dog will need to be kept warm. A blanket or coat will suffice.)
* If your dog is not moving, you need to be sure that he is alive. Touch the cornea which is the center of his eye. If the dog is alive, he should blink.
* If your dog is unconscious, treat him just like you would treat a person with a possible spinal injury. Wrap him on a board so his legs, spine, and neck are stiff. Next, be sure that his airway is clear so he is able to breathe. You can gently extend his head and neck, pull his tongue over to one side of his mouth, and use a cloth to clear any secretions from his mouth and nose.
* If the dog is also bleeding, the first aid treatment is the same as that used for a person. Apply steady, direct pressure with a clean towel, a piece of gauze, or even your hand to try to stop or at least limit the blood flow. Two pellets of Arnica Montana 20c can be placed on the tongue every 15 minutes for a total of three doses to relieve pain and decrease swelling while on your way to the vet.
* Legs that are dangling or obviously broken can be immobilized with splints made of newspaper, towels, or even a pillow.
WHAT YOUR VET CAN DO
* Once at the hospital, the vet will examine the dog and initially assess vital statistics including rectal temperature, heart rate, respiration, and gum color. If the dog is critical, a catheter or tube will be inserted into a vein – this is called an intravenous fluid line. Medication to prevent shock, along with fluids to stabilize blood pressure, will be administered though this catheter. Once the dog is stabilized, x-rays to detect broken bones and other possible internal injuries will be taken. You will then be advised of the necessary treatment. You will also be given a prognosis, or told how your dog should do once out of the hospital, and whether or not any long-term complications should be expected.
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