Our four legged best friends rarely understand the dangers of road traffic and even the smartest, most obedient dog can end up crossing a busy road in a state of panic or excitement.

A common trigger for sheer terror and frantic behaviour in dogs is thunderstorms and the similarly loud fireworks. These noises can cause a dog to work very hard at escaping their property to distance themselves from the noise. Scared and alone, they run around the streets and all too often end up a victim of road trauma.

Emergency centres and shelters are usually inundated with stray or injured dogs after thunderstorms or fireworks celebrations. Even without these triggers, many dogs are treated for major injuries associated with road trauma each week. For example, The Pet Emergency and Specialist Centre in East Malvern sees at least 5 cases per week alone, sometimes even more, with limb fractures being the most common injury.

Fortunately most fractures can be repaired thanks to major advancements in veterinary orthopaedics and the availability of specialist veterinary surgeons. These complicated procedures do however come at a high financial cost and all too often we find owners unable to proceed with life or limb saving surgeries due to cost constraints. Pet insurance ensures that you are able to make decisions based solely on your pets’ welfare rather than cost much as you would for yourself.

Prevention of course is far better than the cure so always ensure that your dog is securely and safely inside when you leave them home alone.

If you know that they are fearful of thunderstorms or fireworks and these events can be predicted then try to have someone else stay with them while you’re out.

Desensitization works well and is something I would strongly recommend for fearful pets. Your veterinarian or a qualified and experienced dog trainer should be able to explain how to achieve this but it does take time and patience.

Thundershirts are very effective at helping dogs stay calm as is the dog appeasing pheromone spray available at your vet clinic.

Always ensure that your dog is microchipped and that the details are up to date. A collar with a name tag and your mobile phone number are also invaluable when it comes to rapid identification of your pooch should they escape from home.

About the Author: Dr Melissa Meehan BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Int Med)
Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service vetophthalmology.com.au