Dog is my Co-Pilot

Driving is a fun and relaxing way to spend some quality time with your pup. While you’re cruising, your dog takes in some new surroundings, smells the fresh air, sticks his head out the window, receives adoring looks by fellow motorists…AND he gets to hang out with his best friend? What a deal!  But, with that cute fur-ball in your backseat, it may be difficult to keep your full attention on the road. Because April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, we want to share some ways to keep both you and your animals safe in the unfortunate event of an automobile accident.

Preventative steps

Did you know that pets are involved in a lot of car accidents? Aside from being unbearably adorable, our pets may do something disruptive while we’re driving—something like…eating those cupcakes you’re bringing to the birthday party and then puking them up in the back seat. These situations are dangerous because they can distract the driver (that’s you) to the point of causing an accident.

That’s why when your dog is with you, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes on the road no matter what. If your pup is eating your lunch in the back seat or wrinkling your dry cleaning—let it go…or pull over and remedy the situation. If your dog tends to move around a lot in the car and distracts you, there are a variety of car gates and barriers available at your local pet store. With Fido safely contained, you can maintain your concentration on the road.

If you choose to limit your pet’s access with a gate or barrier, remember that your dog is still “winging it” in the backseat. Our furry friends have four legs instead of two, so their balance is a little different than ours. If they are not restrained (and we do not recommend restraining them with a made-for-human seatbelt, although the seatbelt harnesses made specifically for pets are excellent ideas), dogs can get seriously injured in the impact of a collision. That’s why it’s a good idea to take turns a little slower and brake lightly.  Always practice defensive driving when your dog is riding with you.

When an accident happens

So, what do you do if you are in an accident when your dog is with you? While you wait for the first responders, your dog is probably feeling frightened. Dogs have an acute sense of hearing, so the noise of an accident is more jarring for their senses. More than anything, they are probably frightened for your safety (bless their hearts). Talking to them in a comforting voice will help calm both of you down until someone arrives to help.

When help arrives, your paramedics can check out both you and your dog. Did you know that ambulances in Albuquerque are equipped with pet oxygen masks? While they cannot do a thorough examination, first responders will provide oxygen, hydration and take care of the cuts and wounds your dog may have suffered in the accident.

Afterwards, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the veterinarian for a more thorough exam. In the impact of an accident, your dog may have damaged a muscle or suffered a mild fracture. It’s heartbreaking, but our dogs cannot actively tell us exactly what’s wrong when they’re hurting. Sometimes, we don’t even know anything is wrong. That’s why it’s important to seek your vet’s help to make sure your dog is recovering from the accident in top shape.

Be Prepared!

If you want to be prepared for an accident on the road involving your pup, you can build your own first aid kit and keep it tucked away in the case of an emergency. Most of these items can be found at your local drugstore and can actually double as items in your own first aid kit.

  • Sturdy strips of fabric (to prevent biting/licking of wounds)
  • Leash
  • Oral syringe
  • Tweezers
  • Saline solution
  • Rubber gloves
  • Gauze
  • Antiseptic
  • Adhesive tape

We love our animals deeply and want to take care of them the best we can. While we can’t control everything on the road, we can do our best to keep our pup’s best interests a priority.  The best thing about dogs is that they bounce back like the rubber balls they chew on! By practicing safe driving and being prepared, we can keep having those relaxing drives with our favorite furry friends for years to come.