Dealing With Dog Bites

by Statcare Urgent Medical Care

According to the CDC, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year, and 900,000 of those bites become infected. Victims of dog bites frequently know the dog that attacked them. The head and neck are the most common site of bites in children up to age 10 years, probably because a child's head is close to the level of a large dog's mouth. The arms and legs, particularly the right hand, are the most frequent site of injury for older children and adults. A dog bite can lead to a range of injuries, including scratches, deep open cuts, puncture wounds, crush injuries, and tearing away of a body part. Dog bites rarely cause death.

After being bitten by a dog, it is important to quickly and carefully clean the wound thoroughly with soap and a large amount of water; this can help to prevent infection. If there is bleeding, a clean towel or gauze should be pressed to the wound to slow or stop the bleeding.

Do I need treatment? — Adults or children who have been bitten by a dog should see a healthcare provider if:

●An animal bite has broken through the skin and bleeding does not stop after applying pressure for 15 minutes

●A bone may be broken, or if there is other serious injury

●A bite victim has diabetes, liver disease, cancer, HIV-infection, or takes a medication that could weaken the immune system

It is best to be evaluated and treated as soon as possible after being bitten to reduce the chance of developing an infection.

The most common complication of a dog bite is infection. Antibiotics are generally recommended to prevent infection in people with high-risk wounds, facial wounds, wounds involving a bone or joint, and for people with other health problems, such as a weakened immune system or diabetes, which could increase the risk of serious infection.

Tetanus is a serious, potentially life-threatening infection that can be transmitted by an animal or human bite. If you are not up-to-date with your tetanus vaccine, you will need a booster. 

If you were bitten by a dog that could be infected with rabies, you MUST seek medical attention to determine if a series of injections is needed to prevent rabies, which is usually a fatal illness.

Walk-in to any of our clinics and talk to our providers. No appointment is necessary at our clinics and you’ll only wait minutes to be seen. You can call ahead at (855) 9 FOR DOC and let us know you’re on the way or you can check in online.

Source: CDC, UpToDate