What To Do If You’ve Been Bitten By A Dog
You might have heard the popular myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, but that’s not necessarily true. Almost every mouth is filthy, no matter the species. What is true is this: bacteria vary from species to species, so the bacteria in your dog’s mouth might not be as likely to harm you as the bacteria in your friend or lover’s mouth. Don’t let that fool you: a dog bite can still lead to serious infection, and you should take any such injury seriously. See a doctor as soon as you can, and keep these tips in mind.
Directly after a dog bite injury, analyze the bite area carefully. If the injury is superficial or doesn’t seem very threatening, start by cleaning the wound with warm, soapy water. If you’re bleeding, cover the wound with a clean towel or cloth and apply pressure to help the blood clot faster. If the bite occurred on an arm or leg, keep the limb elevated. If you the injury continues to bleed or you can’t see a doctor right away, afix a sterile bandage over the bite area.
A doctor will likely put you on antibiotics to prevent infection, just as he or she would if you’d been bitten by a tick. Doctors can also help root out other possible avenues to serious complications. If you have diabetes, immunological disorders, or liver disease, you might require extra attention because there’s a greater possibility of infection. Dogs can carry common strains of staphylococcus and streptococcus, among others. Ask your doctor if it’s appropriate to use an antibiotic cream or ointment to help treat the wound.
If the dog was a stray, or you just don’t know the owner, be sure to tell the doctor. If there’s a chance an animal could carry rabies, you need to know.
Even if the bite seems minor, don’t delay in seeking medical attention. Just because the skin doesn’t look broken, doesn’t mean that complications won’t arise. If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in a while, be prepared to get one now. Don’t try to be tough and close up a bleeding wound with duct tape. Serious dog bites require care.
When you return from the doctor’s office with treatment in hand, you still have work to do. Be sure to change the bandage and gently wash the area each day by dabbing a wet cloth against the site of the injury. If the wound starts to become very inflamed, overly red, or begins to leak pus, then you should seek another round of medical attention.