Brakes and Pains: Tips on preventing pet/car collisions

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jul 26 2011

Unfortunately, accidents happen throughout the year. One emergency we all hate to see seems to be more common in the warmer summer months. I guess it’s because we all spend a little more time outdoors in the summer time, and often our pets come with us. Sadly, it only takes a split second for your pet to wander into the road and become the victim of collision with a car.

In the pet/car collision, everyone feels awful. The pet, the pet’s owners, the person driving the car, and the veterinarian are all traumatized by this kind of event. Of course, pet/car collisions are almost always accidents, but following a couple of guidelines can help to ensure that this is one accident that will never happen to your pet.

Keep your dog out of the street

I know, it sounds obvious, but it bears repeating. Make sure your pet is safely contained in your yard, either by a physical fence or an electric fence, and has no access to the street. An even safer approach is to always supervise your pet when they are outside. Athletic pets have been known to leap even tall fences, and an underground fence may provide a false sense of complete security, when in truth it is more of a deterrent. It is unreasonable to think that our pets can ever learn traffic laws, no matter how smart they are! Owners will occasionally tell me that their pets are street smart (especially if they’ve already been the victim of car collision) and this is simply not true.

Do not encourage your dog to chase or bark at cars

I know we’ve all had the experience of driving down someone’s driveway with a dog chasing and barking at your car, or even trying to bite your car’s tires! This is a dangerous habit, but one that you can prevent. It is difficult to break a chasing habit, but it can be done!

Never chase your dog.
This triggers their instinct to run away and becomes a (very frustrating) game for your dog.

Teach your dog to “stay” in a quiet environment. Once the “stay” command has been conquered, move your training sessions gradually closer to cars.

Teach the “come” command to enable you to call your dog back to you if he breaks his “stay.” Use treats that he finds especially yummy to entice him back to you when you are teaching the “come” command.

Never give your dog a reason to distrust or fear you--his life may depend on coming when you call.

If your dog has been hit by a car, you’ll need to get to the vet’s office as soon as possible. Call the office when you are on the way so that the team can ready their emergency equipment in case it is needed. Even if your pet appears to be fine after being hit by a car, you still need to take him to the vet. Internal injuries may not be readily apparent, but can still prove deadly. It’s wise to use a muzzle to prevent your pet from unintentionally biting you if he is in pain. If you do not have a muzzle, you can loosely tie a thin rope or piece of fabric around his muzzle, but make sure he can still pant if necessary.

Pet/car collision events are heartbreaking, and can be quite costly; having Petplan pet insurance can provide peace of mind that your pet’s emergency treatment will be covered. Thankfully, these types of accidents are preventable. We all know that prevention is the best medicine, so keep your dog on a leash when near the road and take some time to brush up on his basic “sit”, “stay”, and “come” commands.