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What should I do after a dog bite?

| May 17, 2021 | Animal Bites |

Dogs can add much love and enjoyment to a person’s life. However, when a dog is dangerous or the owner lacks responsibility, a dog can also cause major injuries.

These injuries often require medical attention to prevent more serious effects. The Cleveland Clinic explains what you should do if bitten by a dog.

Short-term first-aid steps

While you should receive medical attention as soon as possible, you must also apply first-aid immediately following the bite. If there is active bleeding, use a clean cloth to slow it. Once bleeding is under control, use mild soap and warm water to thoroughly cleanse the wound. Apply an antibiotic cream to the area to lower the risk of infection, then cover the injury with sterile gauze.

When to schedule a visit with your doctor

Serious bleeding and injury require a trip to the emergency room. However, even seemingly minor bites require assessment by a medical professional. You should schedule an appointment within at least eight hours of the attack to ensure timely treatment of the wound and any emerging infection. People with immune issues should schedule an appointment even sooner, as immune dysfunction increases the risk of infection.

What to expect during the appointment

The doctor will examine the wound to look for signs of infection. Redness, swelling, and significant pain all indicate a possible infection. Your doctor might also recommend tetanus booster if ten years or longer have passed since your last shot.

The doctor will also ask about the animal that bit you. This is to determine whether there is a chance the animal is rabid. Rabies is fatal without immediate treatment, so your doctor might choose to start the therapy, even if there is no indication that the dog was rabid.

Dog ownership is a huge responsibility. While you cannot control individual dog owners, you can take the right steps after their inaction or negligence leads to a dog attack.