What to Do When a Dog Bites You or a Loved One

Dog owners view their pups as their companions, their best friends, and beloved members of their families. Sometimes, they may forget that dogs are animals, and they have instincts to protect themselves. When dogs get upset, anxious, defensive, or angry, they might lash out and bite a human being or another dog.

Dog bite injuries can be serious, which is why you’ll need to take immediate action if you get bit. Here are the steps you should take if a dog bites you so that you have the best chance of making a swift recovery.

What to Do When a Dog Bites: Treat Your Wound

pet first aid awareness month

If you have a dog bite wound, first do some basic first aid and check and see if the dog broke your skin. Use mild soap on the wound and run warm water on it for about 10 to 15 minutes. This might take longer if the wound is dirty.

Washing a wound thoroughly is critical because it reduces the risk of infection. Some warning signs of a wound infection include:

  • Fluid or pus coming out of the wound
  • Chills or fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tremors or weakness
  • Tenderness near the bite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss and sensation around the wound

After washing the animal bite wound, use a clean cloth to put pressure on it and stop the bleeding and apply antibiotic ointment, which can also reduce the risk of infection. Cover the wound with a dry and clean bandage.

If the dog bit your leg or arm, then put a bulky dressing on it and wrap it. If you are in pain, you can take a pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for some relief.

If the dog that bit you was your own (or a friend’s), then you can put him in his crate, safely far away from anyone, and go to the doctor for medical treatment if you have a puncture wound showing any signs of infection. But if you don’t know the dog that bit you, you’ll have to collect some information.

Find Out About the Dog

what to do when a dog bites

You’ll need to ask the pet owner some key questions before heading to your doctor for some emergency medicine. They include the following:

  • Name and contact information
  • Do you have your dog’s vaccination record?
  • Are his vaccines up to date?
  • Did he get the rabies vaccination?
  • Has he ever attacked anyone before?
  • Who is your renters’ or homeowners’ insurance provider? What’s your policy number?

You will also need to write down the date and time of your injury, the location of the bite wound, how forceful the dog was, what led to the bite, and the date of your last tetanus shot.

Note: If a wild or stray dog bit you, then call local animal control right away. After your get medical treatment, you can also do some digging on apps like NextDoor or Citizen and try to find the owner. Another idea is to post up on local Facebook Groups and put up signs around the neighborhood to find out if anyone has seen the dog that bit you. This is a public health issue, so it’s important to do your part to get the unfamiliar dog off the street and hold the possible owner responsible.

Get Medical Treatment

a dog with a veterinarian

You’ll want to seek medical attention right away depending on the severity of the wound. However, there are some circumstances where it is more critical to go to a doctor for medical care.

You are high risk if:

  • A stray or wild animal bit you
  • The animal did not have an updated rabies shot
  • The bite broke your skin
  • Your wound looks infected
  • The bite is swollen, red, hot, or painful
  • You do not have an updated tetanus shot

It is especially crucial to go to the hospital if young children were involved. They may not be able to express how painful the bite is; a doctor can figure it out and treat them accordingly. 

You’ll need a full checkup, including X-rays, when you get medical help. Also, ask the doctor for medical advice on how to continue treating your wound.

Are There Particularly Dangerous Dog Breeds?

leash aggression in dogs

While you may have heard that pit bulls, Rottweilers, and similar dog breeds are “dangerous,” these are myths. The truth is that any dog breed can be provoked and bite someone.

Every dog is different. Some dogs may have been abused and are scared and tend to bite more, for instance. Other dogs might be prone to anxiety and attacks. At the end of the day, dogs act on instinct. The only thing that you need to watch out for is a dog’s size and strength. The bigger and stronger the dog, the more damage it could potentially cause.

If you have young children, you should never leave them alone with your pup – no matter what dog breed or size he is. Always monitor interactions. And, you should consider getting dogs that are appropriate for your children depending on their age, since young children tend to tug at dogs and annoy them. This can lead to a bite, or even worse, an attack, but a smaller dog will do typically less damage. It’s just not worth it to take the risk. 

Addressing Your Dog’s Behavior

If your dog is aggressive, it’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian what to do as well as hire a dog trainer for help. Also, make sure that your dog doesn’t have any health problems, eats high-quality food, and is getting enough rest and exercise.

One thing that dogs need is their own space. You can get your dog a crate and put a comfortable bed in it, like a calming dog bed. Cozy, flexible, and finished with vegan faux shag fur, this warming and comforting luxury dog bed is reminiscent of a mother’s fur coat. Your dog will have restful sleep for improved behavior and better health.

You can also get your dog toys to wear him out, such as Outward Hound’s Hide A Toy Plush Puzzle Toy. This puzzle toy is an easy way to engage your dog for hours of fun. You can ensure he exercises and gets some much-needed mental stimulation at the same time.

Protecting Yourself After a Dog Bite 

By taking the right steps, you can treat your dog bite and hopefully prevent one in the future. Make sure that if you come across a dog you don’t know, don’t make direct eye contact with him or pet him. If he’s growling or acting aggressively, stop moving, back away, and do not talk to him.

If you make your own safety a priority, you can avoid a dog bite and protect yourself.