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Dog Bites: First Aid Treatment to Avoid Infection

While it’s true that dogs are man’s best friend, we can’t take away the fact that they are animals that can bite at any time.

Whether they’re your pets or strays, it’s important to know what needs to be done should you or a loved one be bitten.

This is why it’s important to choose a pet with a good temperament, stay away from dogs you don’t know, and never leave children with dogs you barely know.

So what should you do if worse comes to worst?

There’s no question that medical assistance is required to treat dog bites but it would help to provide first aid treatment before you reach the hospital.

Know the Dog’s History

Before you administer first aid, the first thing you should do is to move away from the dog to avoid getting bitten again.

Once you’ve removed immediate threat, the next thing to do is to check if the dog’s been inoculated against rabies.

This may be a bit difficult to do if you don’t own the dog but it is necessary nonetheless to ensure that you’ve got all the bases covered.

First Aid Treatment for Dog Bites

It’s important to know that the kind of wound care treatment to be administered depends on the severity of the dog bite.

Clean the Wound

If the skin didn’t break, the first thing to do is to wash the wound with warm water and soap. Applying an antibacterial lotion to the wound would also be a help.

For skin that was broken, washing with warm water and soap won’t be enough. You’ll also need to apply pressure on the wound to promote a tiny amount of bleeding just to flush out any germs that may have entered.

If the bite wound is bleeding, you can use a clean piece of cloth to stop the bleeding, apply antibacterial lotion, then cover it up with a sterile bandage.


This next step is crucial because it will dictate your next course of action. Monitor the bite wound closely and check often.

  • Is it swollen?

  • Is it red?

  • Is it tender to the touch?

If the person that was bitten is in pain, develops a fever, and the wound gets worse, you need to call a doctor because the wound now requires professional wound care.

When to Call for Help

Apart from the symptoms mentioned, other factors may necessitate medical treatment. Below are some of them.

  • The bleeding doesn’t seem to stop

  • The bite left a bone, tendon, or muscle exposed

  • The wound appears swollen and inflamed

  • There’s pus or fluid coming out of the wound

  • The person bitten exhibits loss of function such as inability to move a body part

  • The person bitten is in a tremendous amount of pain

  • The dog gets sick and starts acting erratically

  • The dog’s rabies vaccine history is unknown

Possible Complications

Immediate medical treatment is essential for dog bites because it can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

While infection is one of the first things we try to avoid, there are far more serious consequences that may arise from this type of wound.

Some of these complications are broken bones, nerve and muscle damage, rabies, tetanus, and worse, even death.

If you are a dog owner, make sure your pet gets the necessary rabies shots they need to avoid serious complications in case one of your family members gets bitten.

Final Thoughts

Unlike other wounds, a dog bite is far more serious and thus, requires immediate medical treatment. You can administer first aid to manage the symptoms but ultimately, you’ll still need to bring the patient to the nearest hospital or wound care facility to ensure that infection or any of the other complications won’t manifest.

The information provided should help while you wait for professional treatment.

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