Understanding and Treating Your Dog's Shock After a Car Accident

Bringing a dog into your home and your family's life is a wonderful experience, but keeping your pet healthy and happy will require a bit of discipline and education. Unfortunately, accidents can happen even while you are properly caring for your dog. While this is surprising for many people to learn, 1.2 million dogs are killed each year after being hit by a car. In many cases, your dog can survive such an accident. However, the traumatic injury may cause your dog to go into shock. You most likely already understand how humans can go into shock after suffering a traumatic injury or experience, but you may not know what to do after your dog is hit by a car. With this guide, you will understand the signs of shock and learn how to care for your dog after a car accident. 

The 411 on Canine Shock

After being hit by a car, blood flow to your dog's tissues will decrease. This shock to your dog's body damages internal organs, and this can lead to death.

If your dog is displaying the following signs immediately after the accident, they most likely are in shock and require immediate medical care:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Increased heart rate
  • Agitation, irritation
  • Red Gums
  • Decreased body temperature

As your dog's shock progresses, the following issues may occur:

  • Breathing becomes shallow and fast
  • Gums turn pale
  • Heart rate increases further
  • Pulse is difficult to find
  • Weakness, inability to move

Over time, your dog's shock will become more severe, causing permanent organ damage. Your dog will be unable to breathe or move. In addition, you may notice your dog's gums turning white. Your dog's eyes will glaze over. Without immediate medical care, the muscles of your dog's heart will begin to weaken, resulting in heart failure.

Treating Your Dog After an Accident

If your dog was hit by a car, you must first remain calm to ensure you can provide them with the best care possible. Keep your dog still and quiet while you move them out of the road or accident location. Contact the veterinarian immediately and notify them of the accident. Make sure they understand you will be bringing your dog in for emergency care.

Carefully slide a flat board under your dog, but make sure they do not move while you carry them from the road. Wrap your dog in a blanket to conserve their body heat. Foil-like emergency blankets are ideal for protecting your dogs body temperature while they are in shock. Be gentle and avoid placing any pressure on your dog's injuries while wrapping them in the blanket.

If your dog is unconscious, keep their head level or slightly lower than the body. If necessary, place a blanket under their bottom to slightly elevate the back of their body. This will improve blood flow to the brain, reducing the risk of brain damage.

Check your dog's airway as well. If there is anything blocking the airway, remove it carefully. Use caution while working closely with your injured pet, since they will most likely be feeling irritable and aggressive due to their pain and trauma.

Check your dog for any wounds. If they are bleeding, cover the wound with a clean cloth and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Continue holding pressure on the wound until you arrive at the animal hospital or emergency pet clinic.

Dogs are capable of feeling emotional distress, so continue to remain calm. If your dog senses you are frightened and upset, they will also become worried and stressed. Pet, lightly scratch, and massage your dog as you talk to them in a calm voice.

A car accident is frightening for you and your dog, but you can help your dog survive. With this guide and the help of a veterinarian, you will understand shock and learn how to care for your dog after they are hit by a car.