EVERY year PDSA vets see hundreds of pets that have been involved in horrific road traffic accidents - and the darker evenings in winter can bring added danger.

With large numbers of vehicles on our roads it’s really important to do what we can to protect our dogs, PDSA says the risks can be significantly reduced if owners take some simple but effective precautions.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing, says: “The simplest step you can take is to keep your dog under close control and on a short lead whilst walking when it’s getting dark. Even if your dog is very well behaved and usually comes when they’re called, it only takes a moment’s distraction for an accident to happen.

“A good quality lead, attached to your dog’s collar, harness, or both, will mean you can keep your dog close to your side while you’re walking next to busy roads. Extender leads can actually be more dangerous – they don’t give you the control you need if your dog suddenly dashes off.”

Nina’s top tips include checking your equipment- Make sure that you check that your collar, harness or lead aren’t showing any signs of wear and tear.

Teach your dog road awareness. If your dog knows a few simple commands – like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ – you can help them learn some road sense which will help to keep them safe.

Use positive, reward-based training. As you walk towards the curb, keep them on a close lead and ask your dog to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’.

Stay safe, stay seen – wear a high visibility jacket yourself and use a reflective or high-vis collar and lead on your dog when walking in the dark, you can also buy collars and leads with LED lights, which can be even more eye catching.

Collar, tag and microchip! It’s really important that you can be contacted in an emergency if your dog does get into an accident on the road. By law, your dog must be microchipped – and make sure the chip is registered with your most up-to-date contact details.

Dogs also legally need to wear a collar and identification, like a tag – showing your name, address and ideally your contact number – whenever they’re out and about in public.

Pet Insurance – If your dog is in a traffic accident, they could have some serious injuries, which is deeply traumatic for all involved and emergency vet bills can be costly. It’s important to remember that if your dog has caused an accident by running into the road, as the dog’s owner you may also be liable to pay for damages to the people involved and for any damage done to any vehicles. Pet insurance can help you cover the cost of any accidents to all involved and veterinary treatment. Make sure you look into the small print of any insurance you take out so you’ll have peace of mind that it will cover you for everything you and your dog might need.