They say that dogs are man’s best friend. And that’s often true. I think it’s safe to say that many of us have happy memories of playing with the family dog or a neighbors’ pet during our childhood. They love unconditionally, protect us from harm and make our lives a little fuller.
Sadly, not every experience with dogs is a happy one, with thousands of dog bites and attacks being recorded each year. It’s a terrifying experience and worryingly, it can have far-reaching consequences that can impact your confidence, your physical health and even your mental wellbeing.
So, do you know what to do if a dog has bitten you? Here we’ll explore what you should do next if you’re bitten by a dog.
Call the police
If the dog is loose, or it has caused considerable harm and it may attack others, then someone should contact the police straight away. The police will be able to take control of the situation and they’ll also inform the local dog warden of what has occurred.
Get information from the owner
If the dog’s owner is present and you don’t know them, then you should get as much information from them as possible. Has the dog had its vaccinations? If not, then you could be at risk of contracting rabies and other dangerous infections.
Wash the wound
There are huge amounts of bacteria in dog bites, which is why it’s important to wash the wound – even if the bite hasn’t broken the skin – for at least ten minutes under running water. Assuming you’re not losing huge volumes of blood, at this stage the most important thing is preventing the spread of bacteria and avoiding infection.
Stop the bleeding
If there is some bleeding, try to stop the flow by applying pressure. If the bleeding is uncontrollable then you may need stitches and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Use an antiseptic cream
If you can stop the bleeding then you should apply an antiseptic cream to help keep the wound fresh, free of bacteria and to aid the healing process.
Wrap your wound
Keep your wound clean by wrapping it in a fresh, sterile bandage.
Speak with your doctor
Seeking medical attention for a dog bite is sensible, even if you’ve followed the steps above. Your doctor will be able to tell you if the wound is likely to be infected, they’ll clean it thoroughly and potentially offer you a tetanus shot. If there is an infection risk, then they may prescribe anti-biotics and regular check-ups to monitor the healing process.
Finally, prevent this from happening again
Dogs can attack for a wide range of reasons, however, it’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the signs of an agitated dog. That way, you’re more likely to prevent a bite from happening again. Be aware of the following actions:
- Licking their lips
- Ears flat to their head
- Walking low to the ground
- Turning their face away
- Baring their teeth
If you have children, teaching them to be wary of these signs is also a good idea.