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- Dog bites account for up to 90% of all animal bites. 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S., and more than 27,000 victims require reconstructive surgery.
- Injuries may involve structures deep beneath the skin including muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels.
- Infections, including tetanus and rabies, need to be considered for a dog bite.
- Wound cleaning decreases the risk of infections from a dog bites.
- Skin repair increases the risk of infection, and the decision to suture the skin balances the risk of infection versus the benefit of a better appearing scar.
If a dog bite pierces a person’s skin, bacteria from the animal’s mouth can get into the body, which can cause an infection.
Washing the wound thoroughly can remove the bacteria from the body and help prevent infection. If the bacteria stay in the body, they can cause an infection, such as tetanus, rabies, or sepsis.
In some cases, an infection can spread to other parts of the body. People will need antibiotics or vaccinations to treat these types of infection
how to treat dog bite
10 Dog Bite Prevention Tips
To help prevent the possibility of dog bites, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that dog owners train and properly socialize their pets so that they are at ease around people and other animals, spending time with pets so that your dog does not feel lonely or anxious, and keeping pets physically healthy. It’s also critical to teach all children proper behavior and safety around dogs, whether or not you have pets. Other ways to prevent a dog bite include:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog and scream.
- If you are knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (for example, “be still like a log”).
how to treat dog bites in humans
The type of first aid you administer will be determined by the severity of the bite.
If your skin wasn’t broken, wash the area with warm water and soap. You can also apply an antibacterial lotion to the area as a precaution.
If your skin was broken, wash the area with warm soap and water and gently press on the wound to promote a small amount of bleeding. This will help flush out germs.
If the bite is already bleeding, apply a clean cloth to the wound and gently press down to stop the flow. Follow up with an application of antibacterial lotion and cover with a sterile bandage.
All dog bite wounds, even minor ones, should be monitored for signs of infection until they’re completely healed.
Check the bite often to see if it becomes:
- tender to the touch
If the wound gets worse, you feel pain, or develop a fever, see a doctor immediately.
- Wash the wound with soap and warm water.
- Gently press a clean cloth over the wound to stop the flow of blood.
- Apply an antibacterial ointment to the wound.
- Cover with a sterile bandage.
- Watch for signs of infection.
- Seek help if you suspect infection or possible exposure to rabies, or if the wound is severe.
Bites on the hands or feet carry a higher risk of infection. Certain infections from dog bites can be very serious and lead to complications. Without treatment, these infections can be fatal.
If people have a Capnocytophaga infection from a dog bite, they may have the following symptoms:
- blistering around the wound
- redness, swelling, and pain around the wound
- oozing from the wound
- vomiting and diarrhea
- joint pain
Symptoms can appear between 1 and 14 days after a dog bite. The following factors can increase a person’s risk of infection:
- excessive alcohol use
- not having a spleen
- the presence of health conditions that affect the immune system
- taking medications that can damage cells, such as chemotherapy
Without treatment, complications of Capnocytophaga infection can include:
- kidney failure
- heart attack
A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat a Capnocytophaga infection.
Untreated animal bites can sometimes lead to sepsis. Sepsis is a severe reaction to infection, and it can be life threatening. Signs of sepsis include:
- high or low body temperature
- extreme daytime sleepiness
- severe pain or discomfort
If a person suspects that they have sepsis, they should seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will treat sepsis with antibiotics and intravenous fluids.
People can get rabies if a dog that has rabies bites them. The first symptoms of rabies are:
- a headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms
- an itching or prickling feeling around the bite
Rabies is fatal if a person does not receive treatment. People should see their doctor straight away if they think that the dog that bit them might have rabies. Postexposure rabies vaccination can treat the infection.
why do animal bite?
Animal bites can result when an animal is provoked. Provoked bites may occur if you try to remove food while a dog is eating. They can also happen if you tease your family pet.
However, in many cases animal bites are unprovoked. Unprovoked bites can occur in your backyard. Sometimes a raccoon or squirrel may attack for no obvious reason. If this occurs, the attacking animal is likely to be seriously ill.
If you take your dog to the vet after a dog bite, here’s what you should expect:
“For smaller bites that don’t require surgical intervention, we normally perform a thorough wound evaluation, clip the surrounding hair, disinfect the region with an antibacterial solution, lavage the wound out with saline and start antibiotics.” explains Dr. Rebello.
In more serious cases, like an infected dog bite, the dog bite treatment may require your dog to be under anesthesia. “If a puncture or deep pocket is found, then the veterinarian will suggest anesthetizing the dog to remove damaged tissues, and [will] place a drain to allow the dog’s body to get rid of any pooling infection,” Dr. Callahan says. Even with surgery, dogs will often go home the same day with oral antibiotics and pain medication.”
In more serious cases, Dr. Callahan says that X-rays or ultrasounds may be suggested to look for broken bones or contusions. Vets can also use these tools to see if the bite has perforated the chest cavity or abdominal cavity, which is a much more severe case than a superficial wound.
Symptoms of a dog bite infection can include:
- swelling and redness around the wound
- pain that lasts longer than 24 hours
- drainage from the wound
- difficulty moving the affected part of the body
- a warm feeling around the wound
Signs that the infection may have spread to other parts of the body include:
- night sweats
Preventing Dog Bite Infections
Preventing infection is key after a dog bite. First and foremost, make sure to fully administer any dog antibiotics prescribed by the veterinarian.
It is very important to keep your dog from licking or scratching at their wound. Whether you veterinarian chooses to wrap the wound or not, it is best to be extra safe and use barriers to keep your dog from getting to the site of the wound. Dr. Callahan says that an Elizabethan collar (aka “the cone of shame”) can prevent a dog from licking and recontaminating the wound.
Getting Back to Normal
After a dog attack that results in a dog bite, getting your dog back to her normal, happy self may take some time. Dr. Laurie Bergman, VMD, a veterinary behaviorist who works at NorthStar VETS, says that the first step is identifying the situation that led to the bite.
“If the bite came from another dog who lives in the same house as the dog that got bit, you need to figure out what triggered the biting event. It could have been jostling over a favorite toy that escalated, or a nervous dog getting spooked by the doorbell. Both of these situations can lead to aggression,” she says.
Dr. Bergman also says that owners need to be sure they know and understand their dog. “If she’s not happy and relaxed when meeting other dogs, then you shouldn’t put her in those situations. Dog owners need to learn what a dog looks like when relaxed versus when a dog is simply tolerating a situation,” she notes.
“And you need to be prepared to change your plans if something is off. For example, if you are going to the dog park and you see that there are a whole lot of dogs there, but your dog only does well with two or three other dogs, you should go for a nice long leash walk instead,” says Dr. Bergman.