Dog bites are often minor and can be treated at home. However, a dog’s saliva contains millions of bacteria that can cause a serious infection if not treated properly. In some cases, however, dog bites are severe and require medical attention. Approximately 5% of annual ER visits are the result of dog bites. The following information will serve as a guide to home treatment of minor dog bites, and how to know when medical attention should be sought.
How to Treat a Minor Dog Bite at Home
If the dog bite is minor, it can likely be treated at home. Follow the steps below to treat the minor injury properly and to help prevent infection:
- Immediately and thoroughly clean the wound by running it under warm water for a few minutes.
- If the wound is not already bleeding, encourage bleeding by gently squeezing the wound. This will assist in preventing bacteria from entering the wound.
- If the victim is experiencing pain, administer an over-the-counter painkiller such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Unless the dog bite is extremely minor, the National Health Service recommends seeking medical attention to prevent infection.
How to Know if a Dog Bite is Infected
If a dog bite becomes infected, seek medical attention immediately. An infected bite can cause blood poisoning and other serious complications, such as endocarditis (heart-lining infection) and meningitis (infection of the brain). Below are some signs of infection:
- An increase in pain in the wound area
- The bite area becomes red and swollen
- Fluid or pus begins to leak from the bite
- The victim develops a fever of 100.4 fahrenheit or higher
- Lymph glands appear swollen
When You Should Seek Medical Care for a Minor Bite
If you are concerned that the wound is becoming infected, seek medical attention immediately. You should also get medical help if the bite is on the hands or feet, a joint, ligament or tendon, the face, the genitals, the ears, or the nose. Seek immediate medical care if the victim has diabetes, HIV, liver disease, or any other condition that makes them more susceptible to infection.
Puncture wounds are common with dog bites because a dog’s front teeth are used for grasping while the other teeth pull at the surrounding skin. The front teeth often puncture the skin and the other teeth may leave a jagged laceration. Considering that children are most commonly bitten and that those bites typically occur on the neck and face, medical treatment is often necessary.
If You Have Been Bitten By a Dog, Call Us Today
If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, time off work, and pain and suffering. Don’t go it alone. Jeffrey Harlan Penneys, Esq. has successfully helped countless clients obtain the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been injured, call The Dog Bite Lawyer today at 215-987-3550 (office) or 215-771-0430 (cell), or fill out our online contact form.