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First Aid: Dog Bites

First Aid: Dog Bites

People’s opinions on dogs may greatly vary. Some love them and some are very fearful. Most pups are well-trained, however, when you come across one that may be fearful and bite you, you should know how to apply first aid and be knowledgeable about other dog bite management tips.

Canine teeth can cause some serious damage. When someone is bitten by a dog, the dog’s front teeth grab and compress the tissue, while the smaller teeth tear and rupture the skin. This results in jagged and open wounds. The bruising and bleeding that follows will greatly depend on the bite’s severity and the infection risk depends on the kind of dog and environment you are in.

Rabies in the Philippines

dog bite management

In the Philippines, rabies is a major health problem. Each year, 200-300 Filipinos die because of rabies. This is mainly due to the fact that not everyone is aware of how to handle rabies, and there is still a lack of access to proper healthcare in the country.

This is why it is important for Filipinos to be aware of what they can do in order to prevent rabies. Read on to learn more facts about rabies as well as what you should do in case you get bitten by a dog.

Infection Risks

dog bite management

Bite wounds are at risk of infection because dogs carry different kinds of bacteria. Some common ones include:

  • Staphylococcus, which is a bacteria that causes staph infections
  • Streptococcus, which is a bacteria that also causes strep throat
  • Pasteurella, which is a type of bacteria that often comes from cats as well
  • Capnocytophaga, which is a bacteria commonly found in most mammals

On top of these bacteria, unvaccinated and feral dogs can be carriers of rabies and can transfer rabies through biting. Due to all these risks, it is important to see a medical professional within at most 8 hours of a dog bite. Even if you are aware of dog bite management tips and first aid, you should seek immediate help if you have been bitten and have chronic diseases, diabetes, or a compromised immune system. Waiting any longer could raise the infection risk and make the bite a bigger issue than it already is.

First Aid

The first thing you have to do in a dog bite situation is to wash the wound. Putting it under running water, preferably with antiseptic cleansers or solutions, for around 5 to 10 minutes should be enough. Removing dirt and grime can help lower infection risks.

After this, focus on slowing the bleeding of the wound. Apply pressure and elevate the area that was bitten and make sure to have something to stop the bleeding like a bandage or a handkerchief.

If you have some available, over-the-counter topical antibiotic creams are helpful in preventing infection.

Afterward, you may either leave it exposed to air if the bite is small enough to heal in a matter of minutes. But if not, you have to take some gauze and wrap the wound. Keep it bandaged and change the wrapping every once in a while depending on how badly it is bleeding. Make sure that the wound stays clean.

Once the situation is under control, it is time to make your way to the hospital to get it checked by a doctor.

First Aid for Cuts and Wounds

Seeing the Doctor

As mentioned, it is important to get your wound checked by a doctor within 8 hours of being bitten. Depending on the severity of the incident, it is possible that you need hospitalization or an expert administering intravenous antibiotics for dog bites.

Questions to consider

For your doctor to have an easier time assessing your infection risk, try and recall your encounter and the incident in general. Take note of:

  • What kind of dog was it? Whose dog was it?
  • Was it a stray or a domesticated dog?
  • If it was a domesticated dog, were you able to ask the owner if it was vaccinated?
  • Was it behaving weirdly when it happened?
  • How clean or dirty were your surroundings when it happened?

Do I need a tetanus shot?

It is important to consider how long it has been since your last tetanus shot. Dog bite management and treatment injections could be focused on preventing possible infections through booster tetanus shots if your latest one was taken place more than 5 years ago.

Tetanus is a disease accused by a bacterial toxin that affects your nervous system. This disease can cause painful muscle contractions in your jaw and neck. And this can affect your breathing. in serious cases, it can even threaten your life.

If the skin tearing is severe, stitches could also be an option. Although most of the time, bite wounds are left to dry in the open, scarring can be prevented with stitches, if the situation calls for it.

Maintenance

After visiting the doctor, the daily dressing of your wound is now up to you. Change your bandages and make sure that you are well-stocked with sterile bandaging materials for your wound. Watch for signs of infection. If you feel fever, strange pain, or swelling in the area, you may want to give your doctor a call since these are signs of infection.

If the dog who bit you appears healthy at the time of the incident, a 10-day quarantine may be required for the pet to be observed. Most of the time, no anti-rabies prophylaxis is required. However, if the dog appeared sick or ill when they bit you, or fell ill within the 10-day quarantine, it’s best to consult a doctor for anti-rabies prophylaxis and to bring the dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Key Takeaways

Regardless of whether a pet is well-trained or not, it is important to remember that they can do harm when they feel threatened. This may cause them to go on “attack” mode and bite people they consider strangers. When this occurs, it is important to apply first aid immediately to dog bites.

The essentials of dog bite management entail lowering the risk of infection by cleaning the wound and allowing it to heal completely and properly. Depending on the severity of the bite, you can apply different types of first aid. However, when it comes to injuries caused by animals, you should seek medical attention. Animals host a range of bacteria that can be harmful to your health, and if left untreated, infections can lead to very serious issues.

When it comes to animal bites, seek medical attention immediately to prevent worsening conditions.

Learn more about Healthy Habits here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

If a Dog Bites You, Do These 7 Things Now, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/if-a-dog-bites-you-do-these-7-things-now/, Accessed June 22, 2020

How should dog bites be managed to reduce risk of infection?, https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/01/30/idsnapshot013019, Accessed June 22, 2020

How to Treat a Dog Bite?, https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_2t60mg7j, Accessed June 22, 2020

Dogs, https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/dogs.html, Accessed June 22, 2020

Prevention and Treatment of Dog Bites, https://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0415/p1567.html, Accessed June 22, 2020

Tetanus, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tetanus/symptoms-causes/syc-20351625#:~:text=Tetanus%20is%20a%20serious%20disease,commonly%20known%20as%20%22lockjaw.%22, Accessed June 22, 2020

Rabies Prevention and Control Program | Department of Health website, https://www.doh.gov.ph/national-rabies-prevention-and-control-program, Accessed June 22, 2020

National Rabies Prevention and Control Program https://www.doh.gov.ph/national-rabies-prevention-and-control-program Accessed May 19, 2021

Domestic Animals – Cats, Dogs and Ferrets https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/domestic.html Accessed May 19, 2021

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Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos Updated May 19
Medically reviewed by John Paul Ferolino Abrina, M.D.
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