While most dogs are friendly and loving animals, some can become aggressive or defensive due to fear or other factors. Knowing how to react during a dog bite incident can help ensure you don’t suffer further injury and protect the animal from being unnecessarily harmed.
Follow these steps if you find yourself in a situation where a dog bites you.
1. Distance Yourself From the Dog
The first step is to get away from the dog to avoid further injury. Keeping yourself at a distance from the animal will also help diffuse any potential tension between you and the dog. Move away slowly and calmly; if possible, keep an object between yourself and the animal.
If the animal is aggressive, run in a zigzag pattern until you are safe. Avoid eye contact with the dog; do not turn your back on them. When you are out of the dog’s reach, it may help to remain still and quiet until they move away.
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2. Wash the Wound
Now it’s time to apply first aid to the wound. The first step is to clean the bite area with warm water and soap to reduce your risk of infection. You can also use an antibacterial lotion and rinse the cut thoroughly.
After washing the wound, apply a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. Also, use an antibacterial lotion and cover the wound with sterile gauze and bandage.
3. Watch for Signs of Infection (and See a Doctor)
The dog bite wound needs to be monitored for infection. The signs of infection can include redness, swelling, tenderness, and warmth around the bite site. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Other reasons to see a doctor after a dog bite:
- The wound leaks pus or other fluids
- Fever accompanies the wound or increases over time
- The pain intensity increases over time
- You don’t know the dog’s vaccination status
- Loss of function, such as numbness or tingling
- Can’t remember when last you had a tetanus shot
Note: Only around 1 in 5 dog bites will require medical treatment.
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4. Talk to the Dog’s Owner
If possible, speak to the dog’s owner about the incident. Ask for their contact information and whether or not the pet has had rabies shots. If the owner cannot provide proof of the dog’s vaccination status, you may need to get a rabies shot. Your doctor may also recommend a series of antibiotics to help prevent infection.
If it’s your dog that bit you, it may be a sign the animal is in pain or uncomfortable. In this case, get your pet checked out by a vet as soon as possible.
5. Contact Animal Control or the Police
If you are unfamiliar with the dog or don’t know the owner, it may be best to call animal control or the police. They can help you identify the owner and determine if the animal was vaccinated against rabies.
Depending on the circumstances, additional steps may need to be taken.
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6. Change the Bandage Several Times a Day
The wound needs to be kept clean and dry to heal properly. Change the bandage several times daily, and watch for signs of infection. You may need to continue doing this until the wound has completely healed.
Your doctor should be able to advise you on how often and for how long you should be changing the bandage.
7. Follow Up With Your Doctor
Once you have taken the necessary steps to protect yourself and the animal, follow up with your doctor. Your doctor can help monitor the bite for signs of infection and advise you on caring for the wound.
They may also give you a tetanus shot if it has been more than ten years since your last one. They can also provide prescriptions for antibiotics and other treatments you need.
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Dealing with a dog bite is never fun, but knowing the first aid steps can minimize your risk of injury or infection. Use this guide as a reference, and be sure to get medical attention if you experience any signs of infection. Also, remember safety is key; if an unfamiliar animal approaches, stay as far away as possible.
This article was produced on Health Makes You.