Dog bites can range from mild to severe, depending upon which the treatment must be decided.
Dog bites can be common in areas overflowing with stray dogs, or people working with dogs like in a pet care, and still most frequent cases of dog bites are at home through the pets. Children are more at the risk of bites than adults, and strange but true, men are bitten by dogs more frequently than women who are bitten more by cats. After effects of a dog bite may vary from simple abrasion to infections including rabies. It’s important to know what to do if you or someone around you is bitten (or injured) by a dog.
What should you do?
- First of all, get the victim away from the dog to avert any further assault by the dog. It’s not usually possible to assess the amount of damage all by yourself. Even when the wound might look superficial or when there isn’t any visible wound at all, there might be substantial injury underneath. Appropriate medical attention is warranted.
- You must keep the wound elevated.
- The wound should be washed under running water.
- You should allow the wound to bleed a little, so that the bacteria, dirt etc. is wiped out.
- Painkillers can be given to the victim to alleviate some of the pain from the bite.
- It’s also beneficial to obtain the information about the dog’s immunization status against rabies from its owner. If that’s not possible the dog must be considered unimmunized and further treatment is based around it.
Should you seek medical attention?
It’s necessary to seek medical help if the skin is disrupted, whether it’s a puncture, tear or laceration. Also, if there is pain or signs of inflammation medical help should be sought, considering there might be internal damage of the underlying structures.
It’s also necessary to know the tetanus immunization of the victim and immunize if not done already.
A dog bite may not always result in rabies, however if rabies symptoms appear, in most cases the victim dies. Thus, the victim should be immunized appropriately against rabies.
Also Read: The Real Truth About Bathroom Bacteria
How the dog bites are treated?
The medical attention needs to deal with skin damage, any damage to underlying structures and preventing or treating infections including rabies.
While you might only see the wound as it appears on the outside, the medical practitioner should assess the damage underneath the skin and treat accordingly. For example, there is a bite on hand or wrist, the superficial wound would only leave a scar, but if there is an unattended tendon wound, it might leave the hand disabled.
Next thing to consider is that the bite might inject pathogens deep inside the underlying tissues. Adequate actions must be taken by the doctor to prevent or treat the infections. Common infections from dog bites include Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Pasteurella.
The skin wound is cleaned and sterilized to reduce the risk of infections. In some cases it is left open whenever possible, since sutured wound has a higher risk of infection. Wounds on face or other exposed parts are sutured, while those at unexposed parts are left open.
Rabies is the gravest of the aftermaths of a dog bite. If dog’s immunization status is unknown, the dog should be kept under observation. The risk factors involves both victim’s previous medical history (diabetes, HIV and any disease weakening immunity puts the patient at higher risks), and the site of the bite. Depending upon the history of the victim, he/she is immunized against rabies.
How to prevent the dog bites?
- As a pet choose the breed that are more suitable in family setting.
- The dogs at home should be trained properly to make them safer.
- Breeds that are aggressive should be avoided in a house that has infants or toddlers.
- The stray dogs or unattended dogs should never be provoked. A provoked dog might bite you.
- If you’re face to face with an unfamiliar dog, avoid making eye contact with it. Also, do not run or scream. Doing so would frighten or provoke the dog to fight back or bite.
- Handle the dogs with care, especially untrained. Using quick movements around them or approaching them carelessly would put you at risk.
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog when it’s sleeping, eating or attending puppies.
- Never leave children alone with dogs.
Further reading: Escaping Disaster: What Happens When Rabies Strikes?