Getting dog bite treatment immediately after an attack is essential in order to prevent infection and improve healing. Taking the right steps at the right time can mean all the difference in the world between having a disfiguring injury or a quick recovery. Any dog can bite and cause serious damage, from the smallest Pomeranian to the toughest pit bull, and there are more than 4.5 million bite reports every year, so knowing how to perform dog bite first aid treatment is important for anyone who spends time around pets.
Call 911 if the Injury is Severe or Life-Threatening
It probably goes without saying, but emergency services should always be contacted if the victim is unconscious, bleeding profusely, or is having some other type of urgent issue. Dog attacks claim the lives of approximately 30 people every year, so if you question whether 911 is necessary, make the call just to be safe.
Dog Bite Treatment for Superficial Wounds
Scratches and small puncture wounds are common and these do not generally require emergency services as long as the victim is normally healthy.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply antibiotic ointment and a sterile bandage.
- Use ice to slow swelling and minimize bruising.
- Schedule a checkup with your primary care physician.
Dog Bite Injury Treatment for More Serious Wounds
When a bite is more serious, the initial treatment for the dog bite can be, and should be performed at home, though you should visit an urgent care clinic or the hospital as soon as possible.
- If the tissue is not severely damaged, wash the area with soap and water. If tearing occurred or a portion of skin is missing, scrubbing it can cause more damage and should be avoided. Rinsing it to remove dirt and debris may be a more prudent choice, but if the area is bleeding a lot, skip to the next step.
- Place a clean towel over the wound and apply firm, but gentle pressure to control bleeding. Whenever possible, elevate the wounded portion of your body above your heart to slow the flow of blood to the area.
- If the bleeding stops, apply antibiotic ointment as well as a sterile bandage.
- Go to a clinic or hospital that will provide urgent treatment.
Dog Bites Treatment at the Doctor’s Office or Hospital
It’s always important to have a physician examine your wounds and provide treatment for the dog bite. In less serious cases, this may simply mean checking it and reapplying ointment to prevent infection. If the area is badly damaged, the doctor may have to clean it better, remove dead tissue, and suture it. He will also examine any other areas of your body that may have been injured, to make sure you don’t have any fractures, muscle damage, or internal damage. You should be prepared to answer questions about the animal that attacked you, as the doctor will assess the need for prophylactic rabies treatment. Because Philadelphia requires all dogs to be registered, and to have a rabies vaccine in order to be licensed, the risk of contracting rabies is very low.
Follow Up Dog Bite Treatment at Home
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to stave off infection, and it’s important to take the full course, even if you feel well before you finish your last dose. You’ll need to monitor the wounds for signs that an infection is starting, regardless of whether you’re on antibiotics or not. Signs of infection may include redness, swelling, pus, warmth, and increasing pain or discomfort. Your doctor may recommend a follow-up, just to check the wound later or to remove sutures, and he will likely provide additional instructions for you to follow. Bear in mind that if the damage is extensive, you may need plastic surgery and a series of follow-ups to fully recover.
Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyer
Getting dog bite treatment right away will make recovery faster and easier, but this does not change the fact that you will have medical bills as a result of your injuries. The state of Pennsylvania allows you to collect the full amount of your medical costs from the animal’s owner, but you must file before the statute of limitations is up. Those with severe injuries can collect reparations for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, legal fees, and more. If you or your child was bitten by a dog and you’d like to find out what you’re entitled to or are ready to file a claim, contact one of the experts featured on this site and ask for a free case evaluation today.