According to a study done by the Center for Disease Control, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. Whether you own a dog or not, you need to know how to treat a dog bite. You also need to know what you should do in the event that you are bitten by an unfamiliar dog that may or may not be up-to-date on vaccinations.
In the study by the CDC, it is also noted that of the 4.5 million dog bites that occur every year, 800,000 of them result in medical care. The truth is, you can treat a dog bite at home but you should seek professional care. No matter how serious the bite, you should always consult your doctor in case vaccinations or antibiotics are needed.
It is imperative that you seek medical treatment if you are bitten by an unfamiliar dog, the wound is deep or the bleeding will not stop.
The CDC also reported that up to 18% of dog bites will become infected, and more than 27,000 individuals who are bitten by a dog require reconstructive surgery each year. When it comes to dog bites, it's better to be safe than sorry. My recommendation would be to always seek medical treatment for a dog bite wound.
How To Treat A Dog Bite Wound
As I mentioned, dog bites can quickly become infected due to bacteria in the dog's saliva. For this reason, most medical professionals will recommend a course of antibiotics just to be safe. The doctor will also ask you if the dog that bit you is up-to-date on their vaccinations.
If the dog that bit you is yours or the dog of a close friend or family member, you may know this information. If you were bit by an unfamiliar dog, your doctor will probably err on the side of caution by recommending that you get vaccinated yourself.
If the wound isn't deep and you choose not to seek medical attention, you can learn how to treat a dog bite at home. First, you'll need to place a clean towel over the wound and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. If possible, elevate the injured area until the bleeding is under control.
Once the bleeding has stopped, you'll need to clean the area thoroughly to prevent infection. Wash the wound with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Do not scrub vigorously or the bleeding may start again.
Apply an antibacterial ointment and cover the wound with a sterile bandage. You can remove the bandage after 48 hours to allow the wound to dry out and begin healing. Clean the are and apply the antibiotic ointment daily.
If you notice any signs of infection, call your doctor right away. Signs to watch for include redness, swelling, tenderness to touch and discharge from the wound. You don't want to take any chances, because an infection could spread quickly leading to a more serious problem.