Five Helpful Facts About Dog Bites

Dog bites are not only relatively common, but they can be incredibly dangerous. If you’re bitten by a dog, you run the risk of the obvious wound to your flesh or bone, but you also are at risk for an infection, including tetanus and rabies. It can be helpful to know how to treat such an injury and be prepared to avoid infection as much as possible, so here are five helpful facts about dangerous dog bites.

How to Treat a Dog Bite

If a dog bites you, you’ll need to take immediate care of it. Here are the basics for what to do to get and keep your wound clean before visiting a doctor.

  • Wash the dog bite wound using a mild soap, and run warm tap water over the wound for five to ten minutes
  • Use a clean cloth to slow the bleeding
  • Use antibiotic cream like Neosporin if available
  • Wrap your dog bite wound in a sterile bandage
  • See your doctor
  • Change your bandage several times a day after it has been examined by a doctor
  • Keep an eye out for obvious signs of infection (see below)

Always See A Doctor

Your doctor will ask for information about the dog and the incident itself and may re-dress your wound and prescribe antibiotics or other medications to help prevent infection. They may also recommend that stitches be applied to the wound, depending on the depth, although if they are surface wounds they are left to heal without sutures.

Get Your Shots

A tetanus immunization lasts ten years, so make sure to stay on top of it to avoid getting tetanus from multiple sources, including dog bites. You can often get your tetanus shot at the same time you receive other inoculations. Staying on top of your immunizations and booster shots is the best way to avoid unexpected, avoidable infections that can come from just about anywhere.

Watch Out for Infection

The most obvious signs of infection are swelling, redness, fever, or increased pain in the area. If you suspect an infection, head to the doctor so that the wound can be worked on again and so that you can be prescribed the proper medication to take care of the resultant infection.

Watch Out for Rabies

While the incubation period for rabies is normally two to three months, it can still vary anywhere from 1 week to an entire year. These variations are entirely dependent on where the virus entered your body (the location of your dog bite wound) and the bite’s viral load, which is how much rabies virus was present at the time of the bite.


Dog bites are serious, and you should always consult your doctor. You should also hold onto all medical and other documentation related to the bite when consulting with an attorney. You may be entitled to compensation depending on the circumstances surrounding the bite and the severity of the resulting injury.

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