If a dog bites you, there is a real danger of infection due to the bacteria commonly present in a dog's mouth. Dog bite injuries require immediate medical attention, even if the bite is minor, but there are some things you should do first. Here is what you need to know if you have been bitten by a dog.
Dog bites are multifaceted. They are puncture wounds, which go deep into the flesh. Typically, the larger the dog, the deeper the puncture wound goes dues to the length of their teeth. For example, a German shepherd has longer teeth than a chihuahua does.
Dog wounds can also be compression wounds. A pit bull has a powerful jaw, and a bite from this type of dog can do damage to not only your skin but the muscle tissue or even bones beneath. A dog bite can also cause jagged skin tears and lacerations as they remove their sharp canine teeth from your skin.
While most people's natural inclination is to stop the bleeding, unless an artery has been bitten, bleeding is good for a wound, especially puncture wounds because bleeding flushes bacteria out of the wound. Gently press on the tissue surrounding the bite to encourage blood flow for a few minutes.
Wash the Wound
After you have allowed the dog bite wound to bleed for a few minutes, wash the open area with mild soap and warm water. Allow the water to run over the affected area for several minutes to help clean the wound and the surrounding skin. Many people carry staph on their skin, and while washing won't kill healthy staph bacteria, it may reduce it.
Stop the Bleeding
While you initially want the wound to bleed, it eventually needs to stop to prevent excess blood loss. After washing the dog bite wound, use a clean dishcloth or towel to lightly compress the wound. This will slow or stop the bleeding and encourage the blood clotting process to begin.
Apply Antibiotic Ointment
If you have a tube of over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment, apply a thin layer over and around the dog bite wound. This will help prevent bacteria from entering the wound, which will lead to infection. Cover the wound with a loose layer of gauze or wrap in another clean dishtowel.
Head to the Urgent Care Center
With the wound cleaned and wrapped, it's time to get professional medical attention through resources such as 75th St Injury & Illness Center. The wound may need stitches and the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to lessen the risk of infection. If the dog was unknown to you, you may also need other medications or procedures to prevent additional complications.