Approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, and more than half of those victims are children between the ages of 5 and 9. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every five dog bite wounds require medical attention. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, follow these essential steps to avoid infection and to get you on the road to compensation.
Dogs may be “man’s best friend,” but they can be unpredictable at times. When dog owners fail to properly watch and restrain their animals, they risk injuring others. If you or your child has been the victim of a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical, emotional and mental pain.
Recommendations from Healthline include first and foremost removing yourself from the threat. Then, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water. For small wounds, apply an antibiotic cream such as Neosporin or Bacitracin to the injury and wrap it in a clean bandage. For deep wounds, apply pressure using a clean, dry cloth until the bleeding stops and then bandage the injury.
Whether your wound is minor or deep, pay attention to its healing process. If the wound becomes red, warm, or swollen, or if you develop a fever, see a doctor right away. You should also seek medical attention if you are unsure if the dog had been vaccinated against rabies or if you have not had a tetanus shot in over 5 years.
Treating a Severe Dog Bite
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When Is a Pet Bite Worth a Trip to the Doctor?Some wounds from pets can be treated at home, but others should be seen by a professional.
Even a loved pet can attack when frightened or if grabbed while fighting with another animal.
A surface wound such as a scratch can generally be treated at home by rinsing the area with water and applying an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin.
But any puncture wound should be seen by a doctor. Cat bites are less frequent than dog bites, but cat teeth are sharper and carry a higher risk of infection.
Puncture wounds are difficult to clean completely, and bacteria can become sealed inside as the wound heals, leading to infection.
That’s what happened to Dawn Bothun. Her cat “Binks” thought he was protecting the family Pomeranian from a pit bull. In fact, the two dogs were just playing, but Binks leapt to the Pomeranian’s defense. When Dawn reached in, the cat struck.
“Four deep punctures,” Dawn said. It hurt, but she thought, “it’ll heal. No big deal.”
It turned out to be a very big deal. A week later her entire arm was swollen and red. She went to her doctor who sent her straight to the emergency room at the Mayo Clinic.
Dawn needed intravenous antibiotics and seven surgeries to remove the infection.
“It was scary,” Dawn remembers. “I cried every night before surgery.”
Injuries to hands and joints should also be seen by a doctor, as well as any wound that results in serious bleeding, numbness, or loss of function.
Rabies is very rare among cats and dogs in the U.S., but a bite from a wild animal such as a skunk, raccoon, or bat should be seen by a doctor.