Hit By Car (HBC)

If a car should ever injure your pet there is a good chance that he/she will go into shock. In animals the most common form of shock results from a sudden loss of blood. This state is called hypovolemia and can develop quickly if a large blood vessel ruptures or the onset can be delayed if a small blood vessel has ruptured.

The suspicion of shock can usually be confirmed by looking at the color of the gums and by timing the return of color to the gums greater than three seconds after digital pressure has been removed. Normally the color of the gums should be pink; however, during shock the gums turn pale pink due to blood loss. In addition, as the blood loss increases the pressure drops and thus it takes longer for the color to return to the gums. Both conditions usually occur at the same time.

Outwardly you will see increased breathing and heart rates. It may become difficult to keep your pets attention if the shock becomes severe. Blood may or may not be seen outside the body but rather may be completely internal. Your pet may bite or scratch you if you should try and pick him/her up so it is best to take precautions to avoid this from happening.

Treatment to reverse shock includes replacing the volume of blood loss by giving intravenous fluids loss. A large dose of corticosteroids is also given intravenously to stop further leakage from the blood vessels. Often medical management alone is sufficient to stop the bleeding, however, if bleeding continues surgery may be necessary. Your veterinarian is trained to make these and other life threatening decisions as they occur.

The best advice I can give you is to avoid the opportunity of your pet being hit by a car in the first place by keeping your pet under control at all times. If however a car does injure your pet then a quick trip to the animal hospital may end up saving your pets life. Please think of your pet as you would a five-year-old child in that they don’t always demonstrate good judgement and thus need to be supervised at all times.

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