The vet’s office
By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM, and Dana Marcott, CVT
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Early in my veterinary career I, Dr. Knabe, was working at an emergency practice in Milwaukee. We had a dog in her 20s that was hospitalized with injuries from being hit by a car. Her owners were driving up from Chicago and had stopped at a tollway rest stop. The dog darted out of the car when the door opened and was hit by a passing car. Luckily, the dog was fine.
Years later — here in Marshfield — I treated a small dog that was also involved in a car crash. That dog sustained internal injuries and needed emergency measures to survive. In both cases the dogs’ owners learned valuable lessons in the need for restraint of pets inside cars.
Both cases illustrate some of the dangers pets face when traveling unrestrained inside cars. Loose pets are projectiles during sudden braking incidents. They get injured themselves, but they can hit other people inside the car as well. Air bags may deploy and injure pets that are too close to them. Other concerns include eye and ear injuries to dogs that stick their heads out of the windows.
This brings up additional concerns about safety for the people on the roads. A loose dog or cat can be a distraction to the driver. The distracted driver can then cause a crash. A smaller pet can get under the driver’s legs, preventing him or her from properly using foot pedals. Some drivers allow their dogs to sit in their laps. Not only is the driver’s view partly blocked, but steering wheel access is also impaired, and the small pets can get injured by airbags if they deploy.
Your vehicle does not have to be moving to have your dog find trouble when left loose. Speaking from personal experience, I, Dana, had left my usually well behaved dog in my car while I ran a quick errand, only to find him wandering the parking lot. He had managed to squeeze himself through a slightly cracked window.
The inside of the vehicle is not the only unsafe place. When leaving your dog in the back of a truck, a dog can lose its balance or fall over the side. Some dogs may jump out of the back and run off. Admittedly, it is quite impressive to watch these dogs maintain their balance with seemingly no effort. However, from a professional viewpoint, it is sad to see these dogs being treated for injuries from falling.
Having your dog along while traveling can be very fulfilling but, like many things, has a few risks. While you are out and about enjoying this summer, remember to consider both your and your dog’s safety.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.