September/October 2014 by Ryan Bullock, DVM
Yesterday morning amidst a busy schedule at the clinic, a client walks in carry his beautiful 6 month old German short haired pointer in his arms. “What happened?” asks one of our receptionists. “Well, he was riding on top of the tool box of my truck and my son was driving… he took a turn a little sharp and my little buddy fell off the truck and hit the ground pretty hard.” Radiographs revealed 2 fractures of his hip. In reality this dog was pretty lucky because the bone should heal over the next 8 weeks without needing surgery, but it will be a painful process and require 8 weeks of strict cage restrictions. If there had been one more fracture present, then the options would have been a $3,000 surgery or euthanasia.
When clients discuss allowing their dogs to ride in the back of their truck, most of them talk about their dog with a sense of pride that they have been properly trained to “ride on their toolbox” safely. I have also heard these same clients say that “their dog knows how to fall off of the truck, hit the ground, and roll safely”. Does this sound safe to anyone else? The facts are that this practice is not safe for a variety of reasons. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the dog and driver of the truck are two of the most trained and safe pickup truck riders and drivers the earth has ever seen. What do you do about all of the other dangerous drivers out there who might rear end you, swerve into you, or run a red light into you and your dog while they are busy texting on their cell phone? What about the deer that runs right in front of you causing you to swerve while driving 50 mph on FM 306. Let’s also consider how dangerous this is for other drivers. When your 80 lb lab gets thrown into the air after you get T boned by the above dangerous driver, he becomes an 80 lb projectile that could crash into another car causing further damage and/or injury to passengers. Or consider when your dog does fall out and “hits the ground and rolls properly”, don’t you think the car behind you is going to swerve and possibly go off the road causing an accident trying to avoid your dog?
So what’s the solution?? My suggestion is to buy a dog crate, put it in the bed of your pickup, and strap a tie down over the top so the crate doesn’t slide around or get thrown from the truck in the event an accident occurs. Your little buddy can still ride in the back of truck, but this way I won’t have to worry about x-raying his broken bones or treating his road rash if he ever were to fall. Remember, it only takes 1 fall from a moving truck to have devastating consequences.