Each year, in the United States, more than 4 million people are injured in car accidents, with approximately 38,000 losing their lives. There are also 43.3 million US households with pets.

According to an Automobile Association of America survey, 84 percent of dog owners who responded said they drive with their dogs in the car.

See where I’m going with this? While there aren’t any definitive numbers we can find, there’s a good chance that dogs are involved in a significant portion of car accidents and getting injured or at least suffering some level of shock.

So, what are the best ways to protect your dog in case you’re in an accident? Here are eight things to keep in mind if you take your dog along with you in the car and you have an accident.

1.  Are you okay?

Check your own injuries and the injuries of other humans in your vehicle first before you start moving around looking for your dog.

You can’t help your bud if you’re causing more harm to yourself by becoming frantic while you’re hurt.

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2. Restrain your dog.

Dogs are likely to run away from the accident scene.

After you find him or someone brings him to you, restrain him to keep him safe.

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3. Make sure your dog is away from the road and check for injuries.

Check for lameness which may point to a spinal injury.

If your dog can walk, lead her to a safe spot away from the road.

If she can’t walk, it may ultimately be safer to pick her up risking further injury and take her from the roadway.

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4. Call for emergency services.

If someone hasn’t already done so, call 9-1-1.

Then, call someone you know to carry your dog to a veterinarian.

If that’s not possible, explain to emergency services you have a dog. They may call a vet out too.

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5. If you need treatment, take it.

Let first responders take care of you.

If that means leaving your dog while you are transported to the hospital, understand that emergency personnel are trained to keep pets safe, and even get them treatment if necessary, in such instances.

6. Take your dog to the veterinary clinic.

If you’re cleared to leave the accident site you should take your dog to a clinic to get checked.

You may have to get a ride somehow if your car is not in working order, but your pet should be seen by a vet.

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7. Watch your dog closely for the next 24-hours.

Especially if you’ve opted not to get your dog checked out immediately.

Any unusual signs of lethargy or refusal to drink water or eat may indicate internal injuries.

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8. File an insurance claim.

Since dogs are considered property, most insurance companies will cover at least some of the costs of your dog’s treatment.

Or, in the very unfortunate event your dog dies, insurance will reimburse you for their market value.

Yes, it seems a bit heartless, but why not get something back for your pain and suffering?

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Getting into a car accident, especially with your dog, can be a stressful situation. But being prepared and knowing what to do in the unlikely event of it happening will see you through.

Above all, make sure you’re taken care of too. Then you can know you’ll be fully present for the care of your pet.