When Animals Attack: What Is The Best Treatment For Dog Bites?
Is your dog bite serious enough to warrant a trip to urgent care? Here’s how to tell the differences between minor, moderate and severe dog bites.
Dog bites impact 4.7 million Americans every single year, half of which are children between 5 and 9 years old. According to The Centers for Disease Control, one in every 5 dog bites leads to an injury that requires medical attention. Children are at the greatest risk of injury from a dog bite.
Minor Vs. Major Dog Bite Wounds
A minor dog bite wound is defined as a bite that barely breaks through the skin and presents no risk of rabies. This type of wound can be treated at home by thoroughly washing it out with soap and water. Apply an antibiotic cream and keep the bite covered with a clean bandage until it begins to heal.
A major dog bite wound is defined as a deep puncture in the skin, as well as ripped, torn or excessively bleeding skin. Use a clean dry rag to apply pressure over the cut to reduce bleeding and visit Urgent Medical Center right away.
A dog bite is considered severe if the wound becomes infected. Signs of infection include:
-Pain is only getting worse
-Oozing of the wound
Stray dogs do bite people but the majority of dog bites originate from family pets.
If you suspect the dog that bit you has rabies you need to get to the emergency room as soon as possible.
You should get a tetanus shot once every 10 years. If the last tetanus shot you received was over 5-years ago, a doctor may advise you to get a booster shot. Booster shots should be administered soon after the bite occurs.
Signs Your Dog Bite Wound Needs Immediate Medical Attention:
-You can’t tell how deep the puncture wound is.
-Your skin appears torn and won’t stop bleeding.
-The wound appears to be getting worse and is oozing, swollen, red and/or showing other signs of infection.
-You have any concerns about rabies.
-You have not had a tetanus shot in the last 5-years.
-A dog you do not know bit you.
-You have diabetes, liver disease or any other illness or health condition that suppresses your immune system, as this leads to a greater risk for infection.
Medical Treatment For Dog Bites
A doctor will thoroughly examine the bite to determine how deep it is and if it has damaged any muscles, nerves, bones or tendons. The doctor will properly clean the wound and remove any debris or dirt left behind, this may include the removal of dead tissues.
In some cases, stitches are used to treat a dog bite wound, but not all doctors will do so because it can increase the risk for infection by sealing bacteria up inside of your skin. The location of the wound will play a big role in the decision to suture it up or not.
Antibiotics may be prescribed for one to two weeks in order to prevent or treat infection. You may need to come back to the doctor for a check up a few days after your initial exam.
At Home Treatment For Dog Bites
If your wound is minor and originated from a dog you know, you can treat it at home.
-Hold a clean and dry rag over the wound and apply gentle pressure to stop the bleeding.
-Keep your injury elevated.
-Use antiseptic soap and water to clean off the wound.
-Apply antibiotic ointment to the cut and cover with a sterile bandage.
-Clean, reapply ointment and change your bandage a couple times each day.
Questions To Ask About The Dog That Bit You
As mentioned above, if you do not know the dog that bit you, visit the doctor right away. If you do know the dog or the owner of the dog make sure to inquire about the dog’s vaccination history—is he or she up to date on all vaccines? If the dog’s vaccination status is unknown or nonexistent, it may need to be tested for rabies. If the dog tests positive for rabies you will need to get a rabies vaccination.
Was the dog provoked, or did it attack for no reason? If the dog attacked you for no reason it may need to be reported in order to help prevent the same thing from happening again.
Most dog bites can be treated at your local Urgent Medical Center. For dog bites and attacks that impact large areas of your body, or involve serious damage to your deep tissues you need to visit the Emergency Room.