Did A Dog Bite You? Learn How to Treat It ASAP
Tue, April 20, 2021

Did A Dog Bite You? Learn How to Treat It ASAP


What if your dog accidentally bites you while you are playing with it? Or what if an unknown canine bites you while walking down the street? Regardless of the situation, there is something you can do to treat the wound right away and minimize your risk of infection, stated Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical center. 

You will also need to have your wound examined by a professional within eight hours of a dog bite, advised emergency medicine physician Stephen Sayles III, MD. The number one concern about dog bites is infection.  He added, “You may need hospitalization and require intravenous antibiotics. You should always see a primary care provider if you’re bitten.” Don’t wait for more than eight hours as this increases your risk of infection. Moreover, your infection risk is greater if you are diabetic or immunocompromised.

Dog Bite Injuries and Breed-Specific Legislation (2017)

Nanci Creedon and  Páraic S. Ó’Súilleabháin of life sciences and biomedical journal PMC involved participants who had suffered a dog bite injury within the Republic of Ireland while the second sample comprised of dog control officers. The incidence rates for non-legislated breeds 18.5% for Border Collies, 10% for Labrador Retrievers, 3.5% for Cocker Spaniels, and 3.5% for Shetland Sheepdog. Boxers, English Springer Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Red Setters were at 2.8%. For legislated breeds, the incidence rates were 20% for German Shepherds, 4.2% for Rottweilers, and 2.1% for American Staffordshire Terrier. Akita and Doberman Pinscher breeds were at 1.4% and 0.7%, respectively. After the residuals were investigated, the authors found that the biting trigger for non-legislated breeds (94.1%) was more likely to be reported as being afraid in contrast to legislated breeds (5.9%).

Further, legislated breeds (46.7%) were more likely than expected to be reported as angry as a trigger for biting compared to non-legislated breeds (53.3%). Non-legislated breeds (92.9%) were more likely to bite when guarding an object unlike legislated breeds (7.1%). Bites were more likely to occur when the owner was present on their own property for non-legislated breeds (95%) than for legislated breeds (5%). 100% of non-legislated breeds were more likely to bite on business premises (e.g. vets, groomers) compared to legislated breeds (0%).

Non-legislated breeds (79.5%) were more likely to not be reported to any authorities before biting unlike legislated breeds (20.5%). After being bitten, legislated breeds (80%) were less likely to be reported to any authorities compared to legislated breeds (20%). Among dog control officers in Ireland, 59% believed that legislated breeds can inflict greater injuries and severe damage when they bite unlike non-legislated breeds of similar size.  

19% believed that legislated dog breeds are more aggressive than their non-legislated counterparts. 94% said they allow the rehoming of legislated dog breeds. When asked if breed-specific legislation is effective in reducing dog bites in Ireland, 59% of dog control officers said “yes” while 6% said “no” (some breeds). When identifying a breed of a dog, 35% visually identifies it and asks the owners and 29% visually identifies it. A similar percentage of dog control owners said they visually identify the breed, ask the owner, and check their records (29%). Only 6% said they do not record the breed.   



Why Did A Dog Bite Me?

Dogs bite for a number of reasons, noted AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), a not-for-profit association founded in 1863. But oftentimes, they bite as a “reaction to something.” For example, if a dog is stressed, it may bite you to defend itself or its territory. Dogs can also bite if they have been startled or scared. Dogs might nip and bite when engaging in play. It might be fun for your dog, but for you, it can be dangerous! Hence, it is recommended to avoid wrestling or playing tug-of-war with your pooch, which can make it overly excited and may bite or nip you.

How Do I Treat A Dog Bite?

Put some distance between yourself and the dog to prevent it from biting you again. If the owner is nearby, ask them for their dog’s vaccination history. Be sure to get the owner’s name and contact details, including the veterinarian. If the dog is not accompanied by the owner, ask anyone who witnessed the attack if they know the owner. What if your dog bites you? Check if your pet’s rabies inoculations are up-to-date.

The type of first aid you will administer depends on the severity of the wound. Wash the wound with warm water and mild soap if your skin was not broken. Run water over the bite for five to 10 minutes. Press gently on the wound to make it bleed for a little, flushing out the germs from the bite. Apply a clean cloth if the wound is already bleeding. Press the cloth gently to stop the bleeding. Then, apply anti-bacterial lotion and cover the bite with a sterile bandage. Dog bites, including minor ones, should be closely monitored for signs of infection until they are healed. Signs include increased pain and fever, swelling, and redness.

You may have to consult your doctor to have the wound examined. They will ask you more about the dog and how the attack occurred. Most likely, the doctor will clean the wound again, apply antibiotic ointment, and prescribe antibiotics like Augmentin. Antibiotics are recommended if there are concerns about infection. Once the doctor examines the bite, be sure to change the bandages several times a day. Stitches may also be recommended depending on the wound. But dog bites are usually left open to heal unless you are bitten on the face or if they could leave severe scars when left unsutured.



What About My Tetanus Shot?

You should know your last tetanus shot. If you do, ensure that your tetanus shots should be up-to-date. Otherwise, seek immediate medical attention as tetanus is a serious disease that affects the muscles and nerves, warned Donna Christiano of Healthline.  Tetanus immunizations are good for one decade, but a doctor may recommend a booster if the bite is dirty and if it’s been more than five years since your last immunization.

Dogs bite when they are threatened or stressed. Exercise caution when being with dogs. If you are bitten, consult your doctor immediately to minimize your risk of infection.