It’s estimated that around 4.7 million Americans are bitten by a dog every year. In some cases, it can occur because of a simple walk down a familiar road or path where a stray has taken refuge. The dog may feel that you’re threatening them or are just naturally aggressive due to an abused past. Naturally, your first instinct may be to run if a dog growls at you, however, that can typically cause the dog to react on its instincts to chase and take down. As a result, you’re left with a savage bite.
However, you don’t have to be walking down the street with a strange dog nearby to be bitten either. In fact, in most situations, the bite resulted from a dog that they either owned or was a dog that they knew. Due to their cuddly nature, it’s easy to forget that dogs are actually animals. Not just any animal either. They descend from the great pack animal the wolf. While time and domestication have allowed the cuddly balls of fur to occupy the home without much concern, those natural instincts still reside within the dog. A bit of rough play can result in a playful nip that was a bit too deep. Or, in the case of many children, they might pull a dog’s tail or annoy the dog enough to result in the dog reacting.
Essentially, bites can be easy to come by. Considering that a dog’s saliva can carry a number of dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus, streptococcus, Pasteurella, as well as capnocytophaga, it’s important that you take these four steps immediately following a dog bite.
1. Gather Information
If the bite is deep, you’re likely going to need to see a doctor, and maybe even a lawyer. That doctor will want to ask you questions about the dog such as any vaccinations that they may have received. You should endeavor to be able to answer those questions. If the dog is a stray, do a bit of investigating around the area to see if anyone has lost a dog. If so, not only can you potentially reunite a dog with its owner, but that owner can tell you about any vaccinees that the dog has or hasn’t been given. If the stray is a stray in truth, then try to take a picture of it as well as keep in mind any signs of illness that the dog may be presenting.
For those who know the dog personally, you can ask the owner about the vaccines and other shots the dog has received and when. All of these details can better equip your doctor with the knowledge of how to treat your wound.
2. Wash And Bandage The Wound
After you have received the information that you can, you need to find a way to immediately treat the wound in order to ward off infection. Obviously, if the bite is deep or bleeding a lot, this step should be performed first. Find some soap and clean the wound as thoroughly as you can. Soap and water are an excellent first step to cleaning the wound. You may also want to buy some over-the-counter antibacterial creams that can help to fight the bacteria that may have entered through the bite.
Once that has been applied, take a bandage and securely wrap it around the wound. You may want to apply some pressure to help stop the bleeding. These bandages should be changed regularly.
3. Watch For Infection
You may be lucky in that the bite didn’t contain bacteria. However, you should keep an eye out for the signs. At the first indication of redness, swelling, fever, and an increase in pain, you should see your doctor. The infection could become severe and even life-threatening.
4. See Your Doctor
If the wound was deep or bleeding profusely, you should see your doctor immediately. Otherwise, you should still schedule an appointment with your doctor. They can determine if there was an infection and prescribe the proper antibacterial treatment to fight it off. Since bites can turn deadly, you should be pro-active about your health rather than reactive.