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Canine Injuries: What to do About Dog Bites

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The best first aid is to avoid dog bites from the get go. Here are some simple steps to prevent dog bites

• Supervise young children around dogs
• Teach them to treat dogs with care
• Do not roughhouse with dogs
• Do not fight with them, hurt them, kick them etc
• Do not try to pull apart dogs that are fighting amongst each other
• Avoid sick animals especially if they do not know you
• Do not pull food away from strange animals or bother them when they are eating
• Keep your dogs on a leash when outside
• Select your dog carefully, taking into consideration its temperament and your household requirements

First Aid Steps to take if you suffer from dog bites:

• To stop the bleeding you need to apply pressure to the dog bites
• Gently wash the wound with soap and water
• Apply an antibiotic
• Wrap the area in a clean bandage
• Make sure the wound is elevated above the heart to slow down swelling and/or infection
• Continue to apply antibiotics several times a day
• Report the dog bites to the police and identify the dog in question

See your doctor when dog bites produce these conditions

• A large gaping or deep cut
• Dog bites on the hands, feet and head
• The wounds are red, swollen or tender
• The dog bites feel warm or hot to touch
• You develop a fever
• There is pus seeping from the site
• There is continuous bleeding for at least 15 minutes
• Broken bones
• Nerve damage is suspected
• Other serious injuries

You will also need to seek medical attention if:

• You did not have a tetanus shot within the last five years
• You suffer from Diabetes, AIDS, Liver or Lung Disease, Cancer, and any other serious condition that can affect your immune system.

What to expect when you see your doctor for dog bites:
• The doctor will check for nerve damage, broken bones, tendon damage
• Check for infection
• Clean the wound with an antibiotic solution
• Possibly suture the wound
• Administer a tetanus shot if applicable
• Schedule a follow up appointment
• Refer to a specialist
• Intravenous antibiotics for special cases
• Surgery for bad mauls


The question of the transmission of rabies always comes up when humans suffer dog bites. Rabies in general, does not possess a threat in the United States. If you know the owner of the dog that bit you, you will want to ask for its medical papers to show that it has had its rabies shots. When you don’t know the dog that bit you, the animal control center will locate the dog and test for rabies. If the dog has not been found your doctor may schedule a series of rabies shots for you; just as a precaution.


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