A dog bite can cause serious injuries and may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. But you must also act quickly after a dog bite, especially if it involved a child, to prevent infections and more severe injuries.
These actions should be taken immediately so that dog bite injuries do not become more serious:
- Wash the wound with mild soap and running warm tap water over the wound for five to 10 minutes.
- Use a clean cloth to slow the bleeding.
- Apply over-the-counter antibiotic cream.
- Use a sterile bandage to wrap the wound.
- Keep the wound bandaged until you see a doctor.
- Change the bandage several times each day after a doctor assessed the wound.
- Watch for redness, swelling, fever, increased pain, and other signs of infection.
A dog’s front teeth grab and compresses a person’s tissue. Their smaller teeth can also tear skin. This leads to an open and jagged wound. Dog bites that become infected can be serious and may require intravenous antibiotics and hospitalization.
Bacteria from bites raises the risk of infection. Approximately half of all dog bites introduce bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, Pasteurella and capnocytophaga. Dogs that are feral and unvaccinated may also carry and transfer rabies.
See a doctor
Because of the risk of infection, it is important is to see a doctor within eight hours of the injury. Your risk of infection goes up with the time you wait. This risk is even greater if you are immunocompromised or have diabetes.
The doctor will ask about the dog that bit you and the circumstances. Typically, the wound will be cleaned, and antibiotic ointment will be applied. Augmentin or other antibiotics may be prescribed if there are concerns over infection.
Knowing when you had your last tetanus shot and that it is current is important for care. These immunizations are effective for 10 years. But a doctor may recommend a booster if the wound is dirty, and it is over five years since the last vaccination.
Depending on the wound’s severity, stitches may be recommended. Dog wounds, however, are typically left open to heal except if the bite is on the face or these could leave severe scars if they are not sutured.
Victims of dog bite injuries may be entitled to compensation for the physical and mental injuries. Attorneys can help obtain evidence and assist you with the filing of a lawsuit.