A bite from a dog can be traumatic and painful. Nerve and tissue damage can result, and a dog bite can put you at risk for infection. The damage can also be psychological. You may also have disfiguring injuries that require reconstructive surgery.
The most important thing to do after a dog bite is to see your doctor as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater your risk for infection. Additionally, your physician can assess the damage and recommend treatment options.
A severe bite may require you to summon emergency services. However, you should take the following steps to prevent infection following a less-serious bite:
1. Control the bleeding
If the wound is bleeding profusely, you can wrap it in a sterile bandage or apply a clean cloth to get it under control.
2. Wash the wound
Clean the wound by running warm tap water over it for five to 10 minutes. A mild soap can also help cleanse the bite area of any disease-causing agents from the dog’s mouth.
3. Apply antibiotic cream
Many of the infections that you can get from a dog bite are bacterial. An antibiotic cream can help kill disease-causing bacteria. Therefore, if you happen to have some on hand, it is a good idea to apply it. Otherwise, you can skip this step.
4. Verify vaccination history
If possible, find out from the dog’s owner if the animal is current on its rabies vaccination. You should also verify the date of your last tetanus booster if you can do so in a timely manner. If it has been more than 10 years, you may need another one. Similarly, if you cannot verify the dog’s vaccination history, you may need to receive rabies shots.
You need to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding treatment for your dog bite. Make sure that you know the signs of infection, and inspect the wound regularly.