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Cars, Trucks and Dogs: The Dangers You Don’t Think About

Posted August 15, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (

Chris Longenecker, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Reading, PA, contributed to this article.

The hit-by-car dog
We typically think the greatest danger posed by a car is that it may hit your dog. Certainly, family practices and emergency clinics are filled with cats and dogs who have been injured after being hit by a car. It's so common that veterinarians use an abbreviation for this type of injury: HBC (Hit By Car). There are several variations on that theme: getting hit by a truck, train, mail truck, bus, snowplow, ATV, forklift — veterinarians have seen it all.

The safest ways to keep this from happening are to have a secure fence, lock any doors and gates and walk with a leash.

[Note: Retractable leashes can present a danger of their own; they give pet owners and dogs a false sense of security. A dog could still run across the street and get hit by a car while on a retractable leash. Click here to learn more about safe leashes.]

Dogs in the driveway
Another type of injury frequently occurs when a dog gets crushed when the owner backs up out of the garage. How could it happen? Sometimes, dogs like to rest on the warm cement, behind or under a car. As drivers back up from their parking spaces, they may not realize that sleeping dogs are in imminent danger.  

Such terrible accidents are not limited to dogs and are part of the reason why some cars come equipped with a backup camera. It’s a wonderful device, but remember that it shows you what is behind your car – not under it.

[Editor’s Note: Always know where your pets are when you leave the house.]

An unrestrained, traveling dog
Especially in the warmer states, dogs are often injured when jumping from the bed of a truck. This can lead to broken bones, if the truck isn’t moving, or much worse injuries if it is moving.

Injuries are also likely when a dog jumps from the car window, weather the car is moving or not. Some pet owners open the window for their dogs, whereas some dogs might open the window by pushing on the button by accident.

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at, and follow him at