A Dog Bit You? What You Need to Know!
18 May, 2016

As any pet owner knows, we do our best to take care of our dogs and also make sure they are well behaved.  However, sometimes a dog is scared or surprised and bites you before you can prevent it from happening.  If this does happen to you, there are immediate steps you can take at home.

If the wound is serious, you should definitely call and schedule an appointment with your doctor.  Some states, depending on their laws, require you to go to the emergency room immediately to take care of the wound and not a physician.

If you do have the unfortunate occurrence of being bit by a dog, below are some things to first consider:

1) If you are not the owner of the dog, try to find out if the dog that bit you is up to date on all his or her vaccinations, especially rabies.

2) How is your health?  Do you have diabetes, liver disease, or any other illnesses that affects the immune system?  If so,  you should see your doctor immediately.

Dog Bite Treatment

Although you should treat yourself immediately at home for a dog bite, you should really see a doctor if an unfamiliar dog bit you, the bite is deep, you can’t stop the bleeding, or if there are any signs of infection (redness, swelling, warmth, pus). Sometimes, dog bites can cause infections that need to be treated with antibiotics.

If you just got a dog bite, make sure to do the following at home:

Put  clean towel over the bite to stop any bleeding; wash the bite carefully with soap and water.  Then, apply antibiotic ointment to the area and cover the area with a sterile bandage.  You should apply the antibiotic ointment every day until the bite heals to prevent infection.

Your doctor will make sure there isn’t any damage

Your doctor will examine the bite to see whether it was deep enough to damage muscles, tendons, nerves, or bones. Then the doctor will thoroughly clean the bite wound to remove any dirt or bacteria, and may also remove dead tissues from the wound.

If the dog’s health is unknown or if the dog tests positive for rabies, you will need to get a rabies vaccine.  You might also need a tetanus shot if the bite is deep.

Stitches are sometimes used for dog bites

Sometimes stitches are needed to close a dog bite wound.  Although stitching the injury can reduce scarring, it also can increase the risk of infection. Whether the injury is closed may depend on its location of the bite.  If a dog bites your face, the area might be sutured to prevent visible scars.

Antibiotics are sometimes necessary for a dog bite

You may need to take antibiotics for seven to fourteen days to prevent or treat an infection. The doctor may ask you to come back in one to three days to have the injury checked if it is a bad bite.

Tips to Prevent a Dog Bite from Occurring

1) Stay away from any dogs you don’t know.

2) Never leave young children alone with a dog — especially a dog that you don’t know.

3) Don’t try to play with any dog that is eating or feeding her puppies.

4) Whenever you approach a dog, do so slowly and give the dog the chance to approach you.

5) If a dog becomes aggressive, don’t run away or scream. Stay calm, move slowly, and don’t make eye contact with the dog.


3 thoughts on “A Dog Bit You? What You Need to Know!”

  1. I would suggest you conduct more research before suggesting that a dog bit victim seek treatment at their doctor’s office. In the area where I live in Florida, protocol requires that you go to the ER. A Primary Care Physician is not allowed to assist. I know this from personal experience. Thanks.

  2. Contacting you doctor will also involve a police report and in most states, if the dog is unknow or you state the dog showed aggression, the dog will be quarantined for 10 to 14 days at the animal shelter even though they are up to date with their shots. This can be very stressful to a young/older pet, especially with health concernes. So you should take the dog to the vet so if neccessary they can be quaratined there. For example: If a dog is shy and has a bite history from unwanted petting, the animal shelter can put the animal to sleep after three bites. So please think of the animal first – if you don’t know the dog , ask the owner if it alright to pet the dog first. If the dog is lost – use caution and have a lead or something to control the dog before trying to retrive it.

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