Cleaning the wound, isolating the dog, going to the emergency room and other things to do after a dog bite

Quina Baterna

Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason. They’re incredibly loyal, loving, and can easily be a part of any family. However, even best friends can have arguments. When it comes to dogs, they tend to settle these with their teeth.

Dogs are still animals, so we can’t expect the same kind of control we can expect from another human being. From being too excited when you come home from a long trip or a particularly intense afternoon of playtime, sometimes our furry friends can’t help themselves and end up giving you an accidental bite.

Other times, you can be at risk of getting bites when going on hikes, climbing mountains, or even just spending time in a country where rabies is still quite common.

What Happens When a Dog Bites You?

Like any animal, even humans, dog bites contain various bacteria that do not belong in your body. From staphylococcus, streptococcus, capnocytophaga, and more, these bacteria put you at risk of further infection if not treated. Additionally, if the dog that has bitten you is not vaccinated, you may also be at risk of a rabies infection.

What Are Rabies?

Rabies is a potentially lethal virus that affects the central nervous system of infected animals. Rabies is most commonly found in wild animals - bats, foxes, and raccoons, and skunks. Domestic animals and humans can also get infected.

Animals with rabies tend to exhibit strange behavior Like aggression or excessive salivation. However, not all infected animals will have these symptoms, and only a laboratory test can truly confirm if they were truly infected or not. Many people get rabies from the bite, scratch, or saliva of an infected animal touching an open wound.

Should You Be Worried About Rabies?

With laws requiring owners to vaccinate their pets, only 1% of rabid dogs are reported to be rabid annually in America. However, exposure to rabid dogs is still the second leading cause of rabies deaths for Americans outside the United States.

Due to urban development, the increasing human encroachment in wildlife areas also put people at higher risks of rabies through the years. Many cases of infected pets come from interactions with wildlife.

Additionally, many countries outside the US still have high numbers of rabies infections, so you should not be complacent. While it is entirely preventable, it can be lethal when left untreated.

Dog Bite Treatments

The treatment for your dog bite will be determined by several factors such as the wound upon inspection, your recent vaccinations, and details about the dog that has bitten you. After checking initial signs of infection like observing the surrounding area of the wound and your body temperature, your wound will be disinfected and then bandaged or stitched up.

To help your doctor, be sure to know if the dog that has bitten you is up-to-date with its rabies vaccinations. If you are unsure, doctors will likely recommend an anti-rabies treatment as a precaution. Additionally, you must know your last anti-tetanus vaccination. While tetanus immunizations are designed to last for ten years, many doctors will prescribe boosters if they suspect you are at higher risk.

5 Steps to Do When A Dog Bites You

Here are a few steps you should when you a dog bites you:

1. Clean The Wound

The first thing you must do is to clean the bite wound. Wash the wound with soap and run clean water over it for around five minutes. Be sure to wrap up your injury in only sterile bandages and replace them as often as necessary.

2. Keep The Dog Safely Away

If the dog is feral, it is best to call animal control to help capture it to prevent other people from becoming infected. Should the dogs be yours, make sure that they are in a safe location while you determine the next course of action.

3. Go to The Animal Bite Center or Emergency Room

See a medical professional as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to determine the best possible treatment for you, whether you need anti-infection medication or anti-rabies injections.

4. Follow Treatment Schedule

Once there is a treatment in place, make sure to follow the schedules set by your doctor. Anti-rabies treatments often go over the course of several weeks, so you must follow them accordingly to avoid any complications.

5. Observe Signs of Infection

Despite good first aid practices, infections can still occur. Signs of infection may include but are not limited to swelling, redness, pain around the bite area, migraines, and fevers. If you suspect that you are experiencing further infection, see a medical professional immediately.

How to Avoid Dog Bites in The Future

Stay Healthy

People who are immunocompromised are at the most risk of infection. If your job or lifestyle keeps you in the many of many wildlife, a healthy body is your first line of defense against infections in the future. A healthy person is more likely able to recover faster when undergoing treatment.

Follow Safety Practices

While many dog lovers struggle with not petting a dog as soon as they see them, make sure to be mindful about their body language before making any approach. If possible, you should also always check with the dog’s owner if they have a history of aggression and vaccination before approaching.

Maintain Your Pet Vaccination Schedules

If your pet tends to bite, make sure to keep their vaccination schedules always updated. Not only will you protect them from rabies infections from other dogs, but also give you and your family peace of mind.

Protect Yourselves from Dog Bites

While dog bites or any other animal bites are not as lethal as they were a couple of years ago, they can still be dangerous if you don’t deal with them as soon as possible.

While rabies can are easily treated, there are several other infections that you should watch out for when it comes to animal bites of any kind.

As long as you take extra precautions, there is not much to worry about. Be sure to go to the doctor as soon as there are any incidents and follow the prescribed treatments. You should have no problem when it comes to protecting yourself from dog bites.

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Quina is a writer, cat mom and artist. Her greatest joys in life are creating remarkable experiences and writing about them.


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