Over 4 million Americans are bit by dogs every year, and half of those bitten are children.
A dog bite is an injury you don’t anticipate or expect. It might be your dog, a family member’s dog, or a strange dog at the park. Dog bites can range from minor to serious, but the minutes after the dog bite can be important.
Dog bites can be sudden and scary though, so it’s common for shock to set in or for the injured to assure that “It’s no big deal!” Therefore it’s critical that you understand what to do to treat a dog bite for yourself or someone else. Here’s are 5 steps to treat a dog bite:
1. Take Note
It can be tempting to panic or to act like it’s no big deal, but the minutes after a bite are important. Quickly note the time, location, breed or identifying features of the dog, if the dog was leashed, and information of the dog’s owner. Don’t forget to ask if the dog is current on vaccinations. Make an assessment of the bite – is it one location or multiple? How deep does it seem? Is skin punctured or more torn? Ask a friend or family member to gather this information for you if you’ve been bitten.
2. Immediate Pressure & Elevation
To stop any bleeding or swelling, wrap the bite in a clean towel or cloth, apply pressure, and elevate if possible. Once the bite is wrapped and elevated, identify the nearest location where you can find clean water and soap.
Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Rinse very thoroughly even if it stings, as it can help remove dog saliva, debris and other infection-causing deposits.
After washing, and each day following, inspect the wound for changes in size, swelling, or discoloration. It should shrink and return to normal color over time, but rings of red or increased swelling or oozing can indicate infection. Apply antibiotic ointment daily and wrap with a fresh, sterile bandage appropriate for the size and location of the wound.
5. Get Medical Attention
Unless the dog bite is tiny and superficial, you should call a doctor. Your medical professional may advise you to come in immediately, or just to call if it hasn’t healed in a few days. If you plan to file a claim for a dog bite accident, you will need doctor’s reports for your claim so go right away.
We hope you never have to deal with the scare of a dog bite for yourself or your children, but if it does happen to you – you can be prepared to treat it effectively.