What Should You Know If a Dog Bites You?

If a dog bites you or your child, it’s essential to know the next steps to take in terms of safety and your health.

The following are the most important things to know about a dog bite.

Understanding Why Dogs Bite

When a dog bites, it’s dangerous. This is something you should know if you’re around someone else’s dog and also if you have a dog. All dog bites are considered provoked although that doesn’t actually mean you’ve done something. A dog might feel as if you’re threatening them, despite the reality.

If you have an aggressive dog that you’re worried about, you should take them to their vet for a complete checkup.

The American Veterinary Medical Association says that dogs bite as a reaction to something—usually in a stressful situation when it feels the need to defend itself. A dog might also bite to protect its territory, such as a toy, their puppies or their food.

If you have a dog, you shouldn’t punish them with any kind of hitting. It’s cruel, and it can make aggression worse. Hurting your dog as a punishment can also break the trust he has with you, which will make it nearly impossible to rebuild.

If you’re a dog owner and you’ve noticed any kind of aggressive behavior, start working on socialization as early as you can. You want your dog to feel comfortable in a variety of situations. You should also always use a leash when you’re around other people.

You should do an obedience training program with your dog, which helps your dog learn skills like impulse control. Training is also the only effective way to reduce any kind of problem behavior.

A certified animal behavior consultant or a specialized dog trainer can also help if your dog displays problematic behaviors.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bites You

If you’re in a place where a dog has just bitten you, there are steps you need to take.

First, get to safety if a stranger’s dog bit you. You need to create distance between yourself, or if applicable, your child. You want to let the owner calm the dog down. Don’t make eye contact with a dog that is behaving aggressively because it can make them angry or nervous and they might try to bite again.

Once you’re in a safe place, you should start to determine how severe your injuries are.

Sometimes dogs will do what’s called a warning bite. You might have minor puncture wounds and occasionally blood.

With a more serious bite, there could be very deep lacerations and bleeding requiring that you get emergency medical attention.

If you feel like there’s a lot of blood or the bite is especially deep, you should call 911. A paramedic can respond and treat the wound with their equipment. This will help manage the bleeding and prevent infection.

If you are no longer in direct danger, you should take pictures of your wound.

Get the Owner’s Information

If at all possible, after the dog is calm and you feel like you’re stable enough to do so, you need to get the owner`s contact information. This includes their name, email address and phone number.

Call or text the person as soon as they give you their phone number so you can make sure they’ve given you the correct one. You may also need to look at their ID to verify.

Once you have the information of the owner, you should contact animal services to report the bite.

Cleaning a Dog Bite

If a dog bite is severe enough that you get medical care, then the doctor will clean your wound and explain what to do next.

If it’s not, then you should make sure to clean it carefully. You need to wash a dog bite thoroughly to prevent an infection. If there’s bacteria that you don’t clean away, it can cause an infection, and sometimes that can then spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of an infected dog bite include swelling and redness around the wound, pain lasting for more than 24 hours, drainage from the wound, or a feeling of warmth around it.

Signs you might have an infection that spread to other parts of the body can include shaking, fever, and night sweats.

After a dog bites you, wash the bite with soap and water. Make sure you clean the entire area well. Run the wound under warm water to flush out any remaining bacteria. Apply an antibiotic cream, and wrap it with a clean bandage.

If you haven’t had a tetanus vaccine in the past five years, you should talk to your doctor because you may need one.

If a dog bit you and you don’t know its vaccination status, you might need a post-exposure rabies vaccine.

If the bite is on your hand or feet, you can be at a higher risk of infection.

For example, you can develop a Capnocytophaga infection from a dog bite, leading to blistering, oozing, vomiting and diarrhea among other symptoms.

Considering Talking to a Lawyer

If someone else’s dog bites you, getting the owner`s information and reporting it to animal services are essential ways to build a record of what happened. If you go to the doctor or receive any kind of care for the wound, you should keep details of that too.

You may need to talk to an attorney who can file a claim against the dog’s owner on your behalf to pursue compensation for your damages, including the cost of your medical care.

Being bitten by a dog can be incredibly scary. Sometimes, you might be so worried about the owner or the dog that you don’t steps to care for yourself. The reality is that if someone else’s dogs bite you and you don’t take the proper steps including reporting it, other people could be at risk as well.

If you don’t seek medical care, you can also be at risk of a serious infection or complications from the bite.

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