First Aid for Dog Bites: What to Keep in Mind?

December 09, 2017   1118

You are always vulnerable to dog bites, no matter if you get it from a stray dog or your lovely puppy in teething stage. Here are the first aid tips to prevent infection in your wound before physical assistance.

First Aid for Dog Bites What to Keep in Mind

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You are prone to dog bites, no matter if you get it from a stray dog or your puppy in teething stage. Nearly 4-5 million people are bitten by the dogs annually in the USA. Shockingly, 20-30 of these result in death.

Kids fall victim to the dog bites more than adult as they make half of that unlucky “population”. Almost 1 in 5 victims of dog bites requires medical attention, meaning that nearly 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites. While most frequent sign of dog bites is skin infection, it won’t cause any serious injury and permanent disability.

The severity of the injury can be a torn skin or minor abrasions. But it is for sure that the bites are infectious as their saliva contains millions of bacteria.

A dog grips the victim’s skin with the front teeth, while other teeth stretch the surrounding skin when they bite. The jaws are used by them to put a pressure, leading to the damage to the victim’s skin, bones, blood vessels, nerves and tendons. And the person ends up with the broken skin and bleeding. Dogs often attack kids on their nose, lips and cheek while arms legs and feet are the commonly bitten areas in adults. Even worse, a person getting bites by unknown or stray dog is highly vulnerable to the rabies virus. Medical assistance is immediately required for the broken skin caused by dog bites.

Luckily, you can prevent injury from getting infectious with simple first aid tips before medical aid. Before using first aid for dog bites, let’s know about the wounds type made by a dog bite.

Noticing the Wound:

Minor Wounds:

Minor wounds are bruises and cuts. They should be washed with antiseptic soap under running water. Then, use antibiotic cream to prevent the infection and cover the wound with the band aid or dressing.

Deep Wounds:

A deep wound looks like punctured hole on the skin. It can be a sign of critical injury. Compress it with a clean and dry cloth to prevent the bleeding.  Visit your doctor immediately.


Rush to the doctor immediately if you notice redness, swelling, and fluid coming from the bite. These are the signs of the infection. You can be caught with the fever of 38°C or above and experience shivering. An infected dog bite can cause blood poisoning, brain infections and heart infection.

Rabies Suspicion:

See your physician immediately if you think the dog may carry rabies virus. You must also see the physician as soon as possible in case you are bitten by unknown or the stray dog.


After observing the severity of the bite, use these first aid steps to prevent infection.

Wash the Bite with Soap and Water:

First of all, use the paper tissue and cloth to wipe the saliva content. Wash the bite with a soap and water thoroughly to wash off the germs, dirt, debris and bacteria accumulating over the wound. Keep the wound under the running tap water. Consider antibacterial soap which may easily available at your home. If it is bleeding, clean it with the clean towel or cloth. Take out the pieces of dirt and debris from the injured spot with tweezers gently. If wound starts bleeding, apply a steady direct pressure with a clean towel/cloth to prevent that.

Apply an Antibiotic Ointment

Let the wound dry. Now, apply antibiotic creams to stop the infection and to promote the healing. Check the product guidelines before use. Stay away from using nitric acid and carbolic acid on the wound.

Cover the Wound with Sterile Gauze or Bandage

Cover the wound with the bandage or clean gauze after applying the antibiotic cream. Apply a gentle pressure to fasten the bandage, but avoid putting extreme pressure as it may lead to discomfort or disturb the blood circulation to that area. Make sure to change the bandage regularly. See you doctor and follow the prescriptions.

See a Doctor:

A doctor will determine the best course of action for the severe injury caused by dog bites, including how to prevent bleeding or if the bite needs sutures. The basic medical assistance for dog bites also covers cleaning and disinfection of the wound and removal of the dead or infected tissues. Your shot record may be necessary for a physician to determine the need of tetanus booster for you. If the damage of the bone is suspected, a physician will prescribe you x-ray. If you were bitten by the dog you are familiar with, tell your physician if the dog has vaccinated for rabies. If you are assumed at the risk of rabies by a doctor, you may be given a course of multiple rabies shots in three doses as follows:

  • First dose at the time of the bite
  • Second dose is given seven days after the first dose
  • Third dose is given after 21-28 days after the second dose.

The vaccination for rabies can be painful depends on your pain tolerance. So, you can ask your doctor to use a local anesthetic or numbing cream around the site to desensitize the skin.






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