When you’re unexpectedly bit by a dog, it can be an emotionally and physically painful experience. You may be in shock and unsure how to seek treatment or care for the wound immediately after it occurs. If you get bit by a dog on any part of your body, you’ll need to be prepared by being aware of the right actions to take to ensure you can reduce the risk of complications.
Wash the Wound
A lot of germs and bacteria are present whenever dog bites occur, making it necessary to gently and thoroughly wash and cleanse the affected area. Use a mixture of warm water and mild soap for five to 10 minutes to reduce the risk of infections. If the dog bite is more severe, you’ll need to leave this step to medical professionals when you seek treatment. If the injury continues to bleed, you’ll need to place a clean towel over it and gently apply pressure.
Use Antibiotic Cream
Apply antibiotic cream to help the wound heal. This is available over the counter and is easy to apply. The cream will prevent bacteria from developing to avoid staphylococcus, streptococcus, capnocytophaga, and pasteurella. Some dogs also carry rabies if they haven’t been vaccinated, which your doctor will want to discuss if you’re familiar with the dog, especially if you own it. You may need a rabies shot, especially if the dog shows signs of rabies, which includes foaming at the mouth and if it acts erratically.
You should seek medical treatment if the wound continues to bleed or if the affected area becomes extremely inflamed. A medical professional will also need to treat it if you develop a fever or if the pain continues to become more severe.
Apply a Sterile Bandage
Once the wound is clean, apply a sterile bandage to the wound and keep it covered to protect it. You’ll need to replace the bandage every day for one week to ensure the wound continues to heal and doesn’t become infected.
Contact Animal Control
After the dog bite, it’s important to immediately contact animal control to ensure the dog is captured and isn’t a threat to other people in the local area. Document everything to ensure you can pass along the details and prevent future bites from occurring. You’ll need to discuss if you know the dog, if the dog is vaccinated, and if the dog bite was provoked or unprovoked.
If a dog bite occurs, you can think clearly and have more confidence treating yourself if you know what steps to take in advance. This can make it easier to remain calm and will prevent complications from developing if you have a plan of action in place.