Hitting a dog with your car is a traumatic experience, but the steps you take immediately after the collision could become the difference between life and death for the animal. Emergency first aid for dogs is not a skill that many people have, but some basic steps can improve the animal's chances while you wait for a vet to arrive. If you ever need to help an injured dog, make sure you observe the following emergency first aid do's and don'ts.
Look for identifying information
It's important to reunite the animal with his or her owner as quickly as possible. From a practical perspective, the dog may need special medication that a vet should know about. Look for an identification tag on the collar, and call the owner straight away.
Keep the animal warm
An injured dog will quickly go into shock, and the condition can quickly kill an animal. As such, it's important to keep the animal warm, as heat loss can accelerate the symptoms. Look for a blanket or some clothing you can wrap around the dog to conserve his or her body heat. A blanket will also cushion the animal against the surface of the road.
Muzzle the animal to stay safe
Unfortunately, an injured, frightened animal is more likely to attack you, and an aggressive dog could make it difficult for you to administer treatment. Carefully restrain the dog at the muzzle and body. You can wrap fabric around the dog's snout. Wrap the dog enough times to restrain movement, but don't cut off the animal's breathing. Where possible, use clean rags that will avoid infecting a wound.
Apply ice or water to burns
Dogs will often suffer burns following an accident with a car, due to chemicals from the engine. Where you notice this injury, flush the wound with cold water, and, if possible, apply an ice compress until you can get the animal to an emergency veterinarian.
Delay speaking to a vet
Don't delay speaking to a vet until you arrive at his or her clinic. By calling ahead, you can give the vet vital information that he or she can use to prepare for the animal's arrival. A vet can also often give you advice about any first aid you can administer. For example, if the animal is bleeding heavily, the vet can explain how to safely apply a tourniquet.
Give the animal medication
It's sometimes tempting to give an injured dog something to eat or drink, but this may interfere with medication that the vet later needs to give the animal. You should certainly never give an injured dog pain killers or other medication without explicit instructions from a vet. If the animal is in shock, he or she will not absorb the medication, which will leave the drug in his or her gut. This could subsequently lead to serious gastric ulceration.
Leave the dog's collar on
Injured dogs will sometimes have problems breathing, so it's critical that you maintain an open airway for the animal. A dog's collar will often restrict his or her breathing, so you should remove or loosen the restraint straight away. You should also check the mouth for obstruction. You may need to pull his or her tongue to one side, to make sure it doesn't get in the way.
Try to clean wounds at the roadside
Flesh wounds can bleed profusely immediately after a collision, but you shouldn't try to clean the wounds at the roadside. Grit, chemicals and other contaminants can easily get in the wound, and you may increase the risk of an infection. Apply pressure to bleeding wounds with a clean cloth, and get the animal to a vet as quickly as possible.
Car collisions kill and injure many dogs, but emergency first aid can increase the chances of survival. Nonetheless, you should always contact an emergency veterinarian as soon after the collision as possible, as he or she can give you expert advice. For more information about how to handle this kind of situation, contact a company like Animal Emergency Clinic.