It's scary when it happens. Your pet darts into the road at the wrong time and gets tangled with an oncoming car. But what do you do next? How should the pet be handled? Should you take him directly to the vet? What if he has an open wound? Or, what if he doesn't look hurt at all?
These are all great questions, but the main one I want to answer is the last one, what if he doesn't look hurt? Maybe your pet came out of the incident with a small cut or a slight limp and you are debating whether a trip to the veterinarian's office is required. On the one hand "Lucky" has lived up to his name and it's great that the external injuries are minimal. However, the potential internal injuries that can't be seen are actually still life threatening.
When a client brings an animal to the vet that has been hit by a car obviously the external injuries are easier to see and treat. Any lacerations, penetrating injuries, or fractures need to be assessed and treated appropriately. But the Veterinarian is also observing and evaluating the animal for appropriate gum color, breathing difficulties, bleeding from the mouth, nose, or rectum, blood in the urine, indication of pain when touched, uneven pupil dilation, staggering, or inability to stand. All of these are indications of potential head injury or internal organ damage that, if left untreated, can be critical or even fatal.
The Veterinarian will likely recommend x-rays to view the size and shape of internal organs, silhouette of the lungs, and whether there looks like free fluid in the abdomen. Additional diagnostics may include a blood test that might indicate internal bleeding, and an ultrasound to get a better view at the internal organs if there is suspicion of injury.
Your pet may also need treatment for shock which would include intravenous fluids and hospitalization to stabilize before heading home.
Of course, we hope for the best possible outcome; that the pet truly has sustained no more than a couple scrapes and all is well. We also believe that it is in your pet's best interest to get checked out at the Veterinarian's office should such an unfortunate event occur.