Treatment for dog bites

Like other accidents, it is important to seek immediate medical care after suffering a dog bite injury. Legal action for animal bites may be considered after effective care is provided.

It is important to see a physician if the bite is deep, if the bleeding will not stop or if there are signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth or puss. Antibiotics may be needed to deal with infections. Treatment for dog bites may begin at home. This includes placing a clean towel over the injury to stop the bleeding, keeping the injured area elevated, carefully washing the bite with soap and water and applying a sterile bandage to the wound. Antibiotic treatment needs to be applied daily to prevent infection.

Doctors may ask for important information, such as the identity of the dog's owner, whether the dog's vaccinations for rabies and other conditions are current and whether the attack occurred because the dog was provoked. The victim's medical conditions should also be disclosed because diabetes, liver disease and other illnesses that suppress the immune system increase the risk of severe infection.

An examination will be performed to see whether the bite was deep enough to damage muscles, nerves or bones. The wound will be thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt, bacteria or dead tissues. Sutures may be used to close the bite wound, especially if it is on a person's face. However, this treatment is debatable because it can increase the risk of infection even though it reduces scarring. Plastic surgery may be needed for very deep wounds.

Doctors will need to determine whether the victim's tetanus shot is current. Antibiotics may be needed for seven to 14 days to prevent or treat an infection. Rabies is rare for dogs in this country. But, if the dog's health status is unknown or it tests positive, a rabies vaccine will be administered.

Animal bite victims should keep documents on their treatment and medical expenses. An attorney can help them pursue a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.

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