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How to Treat Dog Bite Injuries

Posted May 04 2010 10:49pm

We all love our dogs.  Even the friendliest of dogs can bite, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not intentionally while playing.  It is important to know how to treat a dog bite to avoid infection and complications that could result.

how to treat dog bite injuries

Initial Response

If you or someone near you is bitten by a dog, secure the area.  If possible remove the victim from the dog’s vicinity or the dog from the victim’s vicinity.  If the dog is not known, make sure you get a good description of the animal; even a quick snapshot with your cell phone would be very helpful in identifying it.  If the attacking dog is not known medical assistance will be necessary to rule out infections and the possibility of rabies even if the bite is only minor. Identifying the dog can help the victim avoid very painful treatment later.

Treating Dog Bite Wounds

Assess the injuries of the dog bite.  You will need to determine if emergency medical service should be called or if it is safe to move the victim to the doctor’s office or urgent care center.  The wound should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water for at least 5 minutes, make sure to get all of the saliva washed from the wound.  If the area is bleeding you can apply pressure with a clean cloth or gauze and elevate the area higher than the heart to slow the bleeding.  Once bleeding is controlled, apply a clean bandage before transporting for medical care.

Professional Interventions for Dog Bites

Once you arrive at the medical treatment center, your wound will be disinfected by medical staff.  If your tetanus vaccination was less than 5 years previous you will probably be getting a booster. If stitches are necessary they will be applied and a fresh clean bandage to cover the wound will be applied, along with instructions for the care of the wound.

The medical treatment center will call animal control.  This is where the description of the animal is important.  If the dog is known, the owner will be contacted to verify that the dogs’ rabies and distemper shots are up to date and documentation will be obtained to verify this.  This saves the victim from having to endure rabies treatment.  If the dog is not known, the picture you took will be invaluable in helping animal control identify and capture the dog, so that it may be quarantined until rabies can be ruled out.

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