Dog bites are considered as common injuries especially among children. When caring for dog bites, it should always start with the safety of all involved including the victim, rescuer and even the dog.
Management of dog bites
- Always stay safe and make sure that the dog is secured as well as the victim. Dogs are likely to bite if they feel that their territory is threatened. If the owner of the dog is around, instruct him/her to secure the dog. If not, transfer the individual to a safe area. Make sure that the dog will not attack again before starting the appropriate first aid measures.
- Among those who are providing care, always observe the universal precautions and utilize the proper protective equipment if on hand.
- If bleeding is present, control it by applying direct pressure. Do not utilize a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe.
- Once the bleeding is controlled, cleanse the wound using soap and warm water. Make sure that the interior of the wound is cleansed as well. After washing, rinse thoroughly the soap or it can trigger further irritation.
- Wrap a dry, clean dressing on the site of the dog bite. You can even dab on an antibiotic ointment on the wound before it is covered but it is not necessary. The risk for infection is still present, thus you have to watch out for indications of infection such as swelling, redness, warmth and drainage of pus.
When to seek medical care
A doctor should be consulted for dog bites that require antibiotics especially if they are deep. Any unidentified dog poses as a risk for carrying rabies. If the dog could not be recognized and the owner could not provide evidence of rabies vaccination, always seek medical care. The cases of fatality for rabies has been reported if treatment is not started early.
Some dog bites might require stitches. In case the perimeters of a laceration do not touch or there are any avulsions, the wound requires immediate medical care. Any wounds on the hands or face must be assessed by a doctor due to the likelihood for scarring and loss of function.