As cute and loveable as dogs can be, they are still animals that can bite. In fact, more than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. It may not surprise you to know that a majority of those bitten are children. Though some dog bites are caused by strays, most people are bitten by a dog they know or are familiar with. As dog bites are such a common occurrence, it is important to know what to do if it happens to you or someone that you love.
Once the Bite Happens: First Aid
Providing yourself or another with immediate first aid is where you need to begin.
- Stop the bleeding by placing a clean towel over the wound.
- Elevate the injured area.
- Gently wash the bite with soap and water.
- Apply a sterile bandage over the wound.
- Apply antibiotic ointment on a daily basis to prevent infection.
Visiting the Doctor: Completely Necessary
Be prepared to answer questions when you visit the doctor, regarding whom the dog belongs to and what exactly happened. Was the dog provoked? Was the owner willing to prove to you that it is up to date on all vaccinations?
Your doctor needs to look at the bite to determine if it went deep enough to damage any muscles, tendons, nerves, or bones. Also, your doctor will clean the wound thoroughly to help prevent any infection. If the dog has been tested for rabies and tested positive, you will need to get a series of rabies shots that are given over a 2 week period.
It also may be necessary that you take antibiotics for 1-2 weeks to ensure that your bite doesn’t develop an infection.
Preventing Dog Bites From Happening in the First Place
Logically, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back at something that has already happened makes us realize how something like this could have been prevented. If it was your dog that bit another person, you might be wishing you adopted a dog with a more even temperament.
- To avoid being bitten by a dog, avoid approaching or petting dogs that you don’t know. When you do this, you are taking a big chance.
- Children should never be left alone with any dog, especially an unfamiliar one.
- If you see a dog feeding her puppies, or simply eating a meal, leave it alone.
- If a dog becomes aggressive with you, avoid making eye contact with them, and don’t run away.
If you are bitten by a stranger’s dog, do not hesitate to protect yourself by documenting the situation as much as possible. Take pictures, and videos, and ask for the owner’s cooperation as much as possible throughout the process. Your health and healing should always be made the number one priority.