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Pet Trauma in Northwest Austin

Keeping your pet safe from traumatic injury can be challenging for pets with active lifestyles. Trauma is a common reason for dogs and cats to be brought into one of our Emergency hospitals for evaluation and treatment.  Trauma is defined as a physical injury or wound caused by external force or violence.  These injuries can range in severity from minor scrapes to life threatening injuries. There are many causes for these types of injuries such as falls, gunshot wounds, being hit by a moving object such as a car or boat or injuries caused by blunt objects. Pets are often attacked by other dogs or cats and may receive injuries that have the potential to cause prolonged care, disability or death. Traumas are often unexpected and present as emergency cases requiring a thorough examination and attention from an experienced staff.  Depending on the injury, a quick response and transport by the owner may be necessary to prevent loss of life.

veterinarian and dog

Causes of Traumatic Injuries

Our hospitals have treated thousands of patients suffering for many different types of trauma. Some of the more common causes for injury are:

  • Hit by moving vehicle or boat
  • Attack by dog or cat
  • Attack by coyote or other wild animal
  • Gunshots, stabbing, bow and arrow or other types of weapons
  • Being hit, stepped on, dragged
  • Falling from high places
  • Jumping out of a car or truck
  • Car accidents (in the car when accident occurs)
  • Lacerations from sharp objects

Signs of Traumatic Injury

Signs of this type of injury vary depending on their cause and severity. Wounds may be visual and dramatic and require cleaning, suturing or surgery. Internal injuries may not be apparent upon examination so x-rays or an ultrasound may be necessary to help evaluate each patient.  Pets that are hit by cars may suffer from obvious signs like scrapes and bruises and their nails may be frayed from contact with pavement. Limping or the inability to walk may indicate some kind of trauma induced injury.  It is important to have your pet seen and evaluated following a traumatic event especially one such as being hit by a car, attacked by another animal, or falls where sometimes there can be no signs of external injuries noted but significant internal injuries present.  Pets that go into shock following a traumatic event will become mentally depressed and have pale mucous membrane (gum) color and high heart rates.

First aid that may need to be rendered will depend on the type of trauma and injury incurred but do not delay transport.  Actively bleeding wounds may pressure on the area to slow or stop the bleeding.  Contact our hospital with any concerns as to first aide or transport/handling issues.  


All patients arriving at our hospitals receive a full exam that includes checking vitals (temperature, pulse and respiration). Be sure to discuss any possible source of your pets' injuries. If injuries are severe, your pet will be triaged and treatment will be started quickly.  Following the physical by one of our veterinarians, we will discuss the extent of your pets injuries, diagnostic steps that need to be taken and the best treatment options for you.

Treatment of trauma varies and will be dependent upon the assessment of your pet and type and severity of trauma.  Emergency diagnostic testing and treatment may need to be performed depending on your pets’ status at the time of presentation and extent of injury.  Some of the common diagnostic procedures performed include blood testing, radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasound.  Emergency procedures performed for severe trauma include intravenous fluids to treat shock, pain relief, antibiotics, bandaging (to help slow bleeding or to protect a traumatic wound), splinting for fractures, suturing for lacerations (your pet will most likely have to be sedated or anesthetized for suturing) and emergency surgery.   Some minor superficial wounds may just require clipping and cleaning.

It is important to remember that if your pet has been traumatized, it may not respond as it normally would; even the friendliest dog may react to painful stimuli and may bite if in pain.  Make sure to be careful when handling your pet if it has been traumatized and always put safety first for both you and your pet.  If you are concerned about how to transport your pet if it has been traumatized please make sure to contact our hospital for instructions on how to best do this.