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What to Do if a Dog Bites You

Dog bites

Table of Contents

Estimates from the Australian Companion Animal Council Inc show about 100,000 dog bites in Australia every year.

Most of these cases occur in children between ages five to nine and most likely requires immediate medical attention.

Although the numbers sound scary, 80% of these dog bites only result in minimal injury and is treatable with basic first aid.

 

Background

Dog bites can happen for several reasons. It may be because these animals are afraid, sick, or in pain. It may also be because out of aggression.

Animal bites, including domestic pets, can be dangerous, especially when provoked. There are also instances where a dog bites even when unprovoked. If this happens, the attacking dos are likely to be severely ill.

The front teeth will usually grab and compress a person’s tissue in a dog bite. Even their smaller teeth can cause skin tears.

Dog bites eventually end with an open, jagged wound with a risk of infection. It is best to see a doctor even if there is no immediate symptoms.

 

Signs and Symptoms

Once a bite happens, it is critical to be on the lookout for any signs or symptoms of infection.

The following may indicate a bite infection or any possible complications:

  • Unmanageable pain on the wound site
  • Swelling and redness around the bitten area
  • Increasing tenderness around the bite
  • Fluid discharge from the wound
  • Swollen lymph nodes (in the neck, armpits, and groins)
  • Experiencing shivers or high temperature of over 38°C

The symptoms included above pose the greatest risk of infection and should receive a prompt evaluation from a healthcare professional.

 

How to Treat a Dog Bite

The type of first aid a responder should administer will depend on the severity of the bite.

Follow this guide for effective first aid treatment.

 

Clean the bite

The goal of a dog bite first aid is to prevent infection.

A dog’s canine teeth naturally tend to cause puncture wounds.

These wounds penetrate the skin in a sharp, pointy way that can quickly become contaminated with bacteria.

Wash the area very well using warm soap and water to prevent infection. Proceed with applying antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with a sterile dressing.

Clean the wound daily and reapply the topical ointment before changing the dressing cover.

 

Stop the bleeding

Dog bites usually occur on the face, hands, arms, legs, and other areas that tend to bleed profusely.

Elevate the bitten area and apply pressure over the wound using a clean towel as a barrier to stop the bleed. Continue applying pressure until the bleeding slows down or stops.

The application of cold can also help the blood vessels to contract. Using an ice pack or cold compress, apply it to the area. Make sure to wrap it in a towel before putting it on the skin to prevent further damage.

 

Call emergency services

If the person starts losing consciousness, becomes confused, and feels clammy to the touch, call emergency services right away. Also, if the bleeding did not stop or slow down after a reasonable period of applying pressure, it is best to bring the victim to the nearest emergency room.

Before anything else, check if the damage goes far beyond a simple bite. If yes, call triple zero (000) or proceed directly to the nearest emergency room.

 

Watch out for rabies.

Most bites are brought by dogs that are well-known to the person. For this reason, pets and even surrounding dogs must be up to date with their rabies shots.

If the dog is unknown, make an effort to locate it and its owner to confirm the rabies vaccination status. It is best to consult a doctor for advice on the next steps following a dog bite.

 

The Bottom Line

Dog bites are the types of injury that require immediate first aid treatment to lessen the risk of bacterial infection. Proper assessment is necessary to determine the wound severity.

In some cases, the victim may be able to administer first aid on their own. While in other instances, there is a need for immediate medical treatment.

Whether a dog is self-owned or someone else’s, it is normal to feel shaken after the bite. If there is a need for medical attention, it is best to call for help or ask bystanders to do it for you.

Consider taking a first aid course to learn more about dog bites and what to do following the incident. Prevent complications and recurring incidents through training and better management.

Enrol today and be safe against dog bites.

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