The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

My Dog Was Hit By a Car: What should I Do?


If your pet was hit by a car, this is considered a “RED” – a true emergency – on our Fast Track Triage chart. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

  • Administer basic first aid. If there is bleeding or an open wound, cover it with a clean cloth or bandage.
  • Use caution when transporting your pet. Animals in pain may bite, even if they are normally very gentle. 

At Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota, we are all too familiar with pets who come in “HBC,” which is our shorthand for “Hit By Car”. Injuries from this trauma can vary greatly both in type and severity. If your pet gets hit by a car, even if everything seems normal, a veterinarian should still evaluate your pet right away. Many injuries are not immediately apparent and may progress over the first 24-48 hours post-accident. Read on for tips on what to do if your pet gets hit by a car as well as a few suggestions for avoiding an accident in the first place!


  1. Have the number and address of the nearest emergency vet handy. Have you ever noticed that an internet signal always disappears at the worst times? Program it into your phone so that you don’t have to waste precious time looking up the information.
  2. Call!  Notify us ahead of time so that we may prepare for your arrival. We’ll want to know any obvious injuries as well as the size of your dog. We can also help you with driving directions.
  3. Administer basic first aid.  If there is a bleeding or open wound, cover it with a clean cloth or bandage. Recently, I had a client use of a maxi-pad for this purpose – ingenious! Her husband wasn’t as impressed as I was….
  4. Be careful. Animals in pain will bite, even if they are normally very gentle. In a pinch, you can quickly wrap a dog’s leash around its mouth to prevent bites. Just make sure there is no difficulty breathing. A thick blanket can also protect you from bites and can be wrapped around small dogs that can be easily picked up.


  1. Always have your pet on a leash when outside! It only takes one rogue squirrel for disaster to strike.
  2. Check your fence regularly for any damage. Make sure the gate latches well, there isn’t enough clearance for your dog to squeeze below it, and the whole family always shuts it securely.
  3. Train your dog not to dart out the door. Your dog should always sit and wait for the command “OK” before she is allowed to go outside. Additionally, scan the yard before you release her to make sure there are no lurking dangers.
  4. Coming when called should never be used to retrieve your dog for the purposes of punishing him. Stay calm and avoid sounding angry or upset, even if you’re scared. The “come” command should always be fun and rewarding for your dog!
  5. Teach your dog to sit and stay from a distance. If your dog is on the other side of a busy road from you, “come” won’t be the safest option.
  6. Have your dog neutered. Male dogs are much more likely to roam when sexually mature and seeking a female in heat. Once learned, roaming behavior may be difficult to break.
  7. If your dog does manage to get loose:
      • Avoid the temptation to chase, as he will run even faster. Instead, try luring him with treats or a ride, laying down (curiosity will bring them back), or running the OTHER way to get him to chase you.
      • Make sure your human family members are safe. While you are retrieving your dog, your children should stay at home. Otherwise, your focus will be split between capturing your dog and keeping your children out of harm’s way as well.
      • Use a leash as a lasso. Put the clip end through the handle. If the dog is close, but not close enough to grab his collar, or if he has slipped his collar, you can throw the loop over his head, then tighten it with a simple pull so he cannot escape again.

    Hopefully, with these tips, you will be able to help your furry family member avoid this dangerous situation. However, should your pet ever be hit by a car, please don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll do everything we can to help you and your pet!

Written by Erin Bequette, DVM.

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Fast Track Triage, color-coded triage system, pet emergency, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet, Oakdale emergency vet

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