Vehicular Trauma

A screeching halt. A scream of agony.

A traumatic accident is a challenging experience for both the pet and the owner.

This is a serious emergency that can not wait. If your pet is in excessive pain, do little to move the painful part. Do not give any human pain killers to avoid kidney failure.

Based on my experience, vehicular trauma victims either have broken limbs or crushing injuries to the internal organs.

You can not delay an emergency visit to your vet if your pet suffers either of the two. Expect to leave your pet overnight and to have many tests performed in order to ensure if the condition is life threatening, and if your pet needs immediate surgery.

Below are the common types of vehicular trauma in my years of clinical practice:

TRAUMA

COMMON VETERINARY TREATMENT

Leg fracture

(bali sa binti)

Depending on the x-ray result, the condition, and your budget:

  • Surgical: If no dead tissues, bone pinning/bone wiring (costly)
  • Surgical: If limb has foul odor and rotten appearance, amputation or permanent removal of the leg (costly)
  • Conservative: splinting if limb has no dead tissues (affordable)

Jaw fracture

(bali sa panga)

Depending on the x-ray result, the condition, and your budget:

  • Surgical: if no dead tissues, bone wiring (costly)
  • Conservative: muzzle taping (affordable but jaw develops permanent deformity)

Crushing injury on belly

(nagulungan sa tiyan)

Depending on the laboratory and imaging tests results, the condition, and your budget:

  • Surgical: to stop bleeding of internal organs that ruptured (highly risky)
  • Humane euthanasia

WHY YOU NEED TO BRING YOUR PET TO THE VET

For all vehicular accident cases, it pays to know that having an immediate visit to the vet can save lives and give owners a peace of mind.

Your vet may determine the extent of the damage of the car accident by performing a physical exam, blood workup, and imaging tests (x-ray and ultrasound). For patients in shock, your vet will aim to stabilize the patient first prior to performing any test. Stabilization is attaching an IV fluid to your pet’s arm, warming its body, and administering multiple medications.

There are cases where pets have broken hips or spine. The surgical options in these cases are very limited, and your vet may just recommend natural or secondary healing. It is giving your pet supportive care through vitamins, supplements, healthy diet, and medicines to lessen the pain while the bones try to connect with one another for the next 3 to 6 months.

However, there are also cases when the damage inside is beyond repair. There may be too much bleeding inside, poor response to pain-killers, presence of other diseases that may complicate recovery, and your pet just do not want it anymore. When suffering is constant, no matter how advanced the surgery and medicine your pet receives, the quality of life is poor. This is the time to let go.

dogs, running, pet
PREVENTION OF CAR ACCIDENTS IS EASY. When opening your gates, ensure your dogs are caged or tied. Immediately repair holes or broken walls in your house to prevent your pets from escaping. When going out for a walk, be sure your collar and leash are free from damages and tear.

WHEN YOU CAN’T FIND A VET AT THIS TIME

WITH BLEEDING AND PAIN

Your primary aim is to move your pet from the road back to a safe place (home).

If your pet got in an accident and acquired a deep wound, it will bleed a lot. To check whether it has lost a lot of bleed, the gum color should be white. Having white gums means there is a high chance your pet lost a lot of blood externally or internally.

For trauma patients or pets who were involved in vehicular accidents, it could be extremely painful to move your pet from the site to your car. A dog in pain will always bite, even if you were together for a decade. Carefully attaching an Elizabethan collar will help you to retrieve your dog easily from the ground.

To transport a dog with an obvious broken leg, use improvised tools. For small dogs, a laundry tub or batya will do. For medium to large breeds, a large plank of plywood will help. Be sure that the material is stable and could be lifted easily by people.

Once in a safe place, you now have the chance to inspect the wound. If it allows you, apply pressure upon the wound using a clean cloth. Calm down your pet using a soothing voice. The bleeding should subside in 15 minutes. If it does not, do not release the pressure but replace the cloth as needed. Once the bleeding stops, gently inspect the area and take a photograph for reference. Apply Povidone – Iodine (Betadine®) through a cotton bud or ball if your pet allows it.

Do not give pain-killers unless your vet instructs you to. Rush to your emergency vet and expect your pet to be hospitalized for several days.

WITHOUT BLEEDING BUT WITH PAIN

Your primary aim is to move your pet from the road back to a safe place (home).

For trauma patients or pets who were involved in vehicular accidents, it could be extremely painful to move your pet from the site to your car. A dog in pain will always bite, even if you were together for a decade. Carefully attaching an Elizabethan collar will help you to retrieve your dog easily from the ground.

To transport a dog with an obvious broken leg, use improvised tools. For small dogs, a laundry tub or batya will do. For medium to large breeds, a large plank of plywood will help. Be sure that the material is stable and could be lifted easily by people. Politely ask assistance from other people when needed.

Once in a safe place, you now have the chance to inspect the wound. The gum color should not be white. Having white gums means there is a high chance your pet lost a lot of blood internally. While travelling to your emergency vet, use a heat lamp and lots of warm compress to prevent your pet from dropping its temperature.

Do not give pain-killers unless your vet instructs you to.

Expect your pet to be hospitalized for several days.

WITHOUT BLEEDING AND WITHOUT PAIN, JUST LIMPING

Call your pet’s attention, and slowly take note which leg is limping. You must not touch that leg. Once your pet is near you, gently lift and carry your pet towards a safe place.

If your pet allows it, apply cold compress upon the limping leg. Force your pet to rest by putting it in a small room without an option for it to jump or run around.

If by the next day, the limping is gone, it could just be a soft tissue injury. It may heal on its own if your pet does not show signs of pain and still has voracious appetite. But if the injured leg swells, it could have a fracture and it needs to be seen.

Do not give pain-killers unless your vet instructs you to.

Note

Look for an emergency service provider in advance by calling your nearby vets. It helps to know who is open at the middle of the night. Be sure you meet with the doctors and staff to make sure that this place is where you would want to take your pet if you had to. You may opt to transfer your pet to your primary care veterinarian the next day if you wish.

It pays to read on pet cremation and burial services to help you plan ahead.

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