Dog Bite Care

 How to Treat a Painful Dog Bite?

Though they may be a beloved and cherished member of your family, no matter how much you love them and consider them family, dogs are still animals, and they can, unfortunately, bite. Dog bites can be very painful and dangerous.



So it is wise that you seek medical attention and see your doctor immediately as dog bites can cause significant damage to the muscles and nerves beneath the skin depending on how deep the bite is. Injuries that you cannot see. You may also require a tetanus shot and antibiotics to ensure that you do not develop an infection as a dog’s mouth is full of germs.

Why do I need a tetanus shot?

Tetanus is a bacterial disease that can result from a dog bite and improper care of a dog bite. If the dog’s teeth have punctured your skin, you are at risk of tetanus as the open wound can allow the bacteria, named Clostridium Tetani to enter your body and this can lead to multiple problems ranging from lockjaw and muscle stiffness to spasms. This is why it is wise to see your doctor immediately after you are bitten even if the bite does not seem serious as you may not be able to see the extent of the damage. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

How to take care of a dog bite at home:

dog_bites-02If you are bitten by a dog and the wound you sustained from the bite did not pierce the skin, and there is no abrasions to the skin, here are some steps you should take to care for the bite wound. If you are bleeding, you should gently squeeze the area to encourage blood flow as this will irrigate the wound washing out any debris or foreign bodies.

It is also important that you keep the bitten area elevated and wash the wound with water. You should then bandage the area with a sanitized piece of gauze or bandage and watch for any signs of infection. Symptoms of infection range from the bitten area becoming hot and painful to touch, redness and swelling of the around the bite and you may also notice pus draining from the wound.

Caring for the dog bite is a crucial step, one you cannot afford to miss as improper care can lead to infections.

If you are happy that the wound is not infected, and you have only sustained minor injuries from the bite than you can take over the counter medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to deal with the pain, and this will also help to reduce any inflammation caused by the bite.

These steps should suffice if the bite did not pierce the skin. If you know who the owner of the dog that bit you is it is suggested that you ask them about the dog’s vaccinations. In particular, the rabies vaccination as dogs can pass this on to humans and most who are infected with this disease die. Therefore, it is paramount that you find the answer to this question straight after you have been bitten. Doctors will also ask you a list of questions following the bite so it is wise for time’s sake to have the answers ready for them.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a disease that destroys the nervous system. It can be passed from one infected mammal to another. This disease can be fatal to humans as it has a 99.9% fatality rate. As this virus is usually transmitted through saliva, it is vital that once you are bitten by a dog, you immediately see a doctor and find out the dog’s rabies status.

However, if you have been bitten by a dog with rabies, you can receive what is called a post-exposure prophylaxis injection. You will receive this multiple times, and this will help prevent the virus from spreading through your body. However, this will only be successful if you are injected within seventy-two hours of being bitten and before you start to have symptoms.

What to expect when you see a doctor:

However, if a dog bites you and the wound appears very deep, the dog’s teeth have likely damaged the tissues and muscles under the skin. If this is the case, you need to see your doctor as they will likely have to remove any of the dead or damaged tissue. If you have lost a large volume of blood, the wound will be stitched. Otherwise, it will be left open and covered with a sterile bandage. Depending on the type of bite more treatments and even surgeries may be needed to repair the muscles, bones and nerves that were damaged. If the bite was to the face than reconstructive surgery is likely.

 

How to avoid being bitten by a dog?

 

Hundreds of people are bitten by dogs every year, and many of these incidents could have been avoided if the dog’s body language had been taken into account. Dogs display certain behavior before they bite as a warning to people to leave them alone. These signs can be easily identified. If a dog is prepared to bite, you may notice these actions.

The dog may bare its teeth and begin to snarl at you. The hackles which are the hairs on the back of a dog’s neck will rise. They may stare directly at you not breaking eye contact, and they may begin to wag their tale which many people misinterpret as happiness, but this may also be a warning sign that your dog is not happy and is cautioning your to stop what you are doing. Many people who have been bitten by a dog will say that the bite just happened out of the blue with no signs. However, this is usually not true as dogs will let you know when they are uncomfortable, we just have to read the signs.

So, what do you do when you have just been bitten by a dog? Firstly you need to examine to wound and determine whether or not you need to see a doctor for medical care as taking proper care of the dog bite is a very important step as it will help you avoid infection. If the wound is deep than the answer is yes.

However, if the wound is merely a graze than you can bandage it and if it becomes infected than immediately see your doctor.  Also ensure that you question the owner of the dog on its rabies status and other shots as this knowledge could save your life. Finally, always be vigilant around a dog and be aware of their behavior as they may be giving you signs to stay away from them. Paying attention to these actions could save you a painful bite.

image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ellsworth_dog_bite.JPG