The most significant concern after a dog bite for physicians and victims alike is an infection. A dog’s mouth is far from sanitary, and as with any open wound, there is a high risk for infection. When a dog attacks you or a loved one, regardless if it is the family pet, one treatment you are guaranteed to receive is one that prevents infection to the wound.
In the United States, 4.7 million Americans are seen in hospitals for dog bites each year – sadly most of these are children. All bites carry a high risk of infection, which is why immediate medical attention is essential.
How Physicians Treat Dog Bites
There are steps you must take immediately after a dog bite – regardless of how big or small – to prevent infection. Also, you must see a physician that same-day for further assessment, because depending on the bite situation, medications might be required.
When a dog bites, their front teeth are what grab and compress your skin. The smaller teeth in their mouth tear, which is why the wounds are jagged. Once these wounds become infected, it is difficult to control them, because there are often multiple layers of tissue affected.
7 Immediate Steps to Take After a Dog BiteIf a dog bites you, take these steps immediately:
How Doctors Will Treat the Wound
Whether you go to your doctor’s office or the emergency room, the physician will follow several steps to prevent infection and further complications:
Common Infections from Dog Bites
Approximately 50 percent of dog bites will have bacteria introduced into the tissue and blood. These include staphylococcus, streptococcus, and Pasteurella. Most physicians will prescribe antibiotics out of precaution rather than test and confirm these infections.
What about Rabies Treatments?
Today, it is rare for a dog in the United States to have rabies. The only way to test for rabies is to euthanize the animal and conduct a brain analysis. Therefore, if animal control suspects the dog to have rabies, they will euthanize and test. They will also inform you of the test results. If the dog is suspected to have rabies, your physician may have you undergo rabies treatments.
Rabies treatments are extensive and expensive. Therefore, most doctors will not treat for rabies unless they are sure the dog carried the infection.
Today, rabies treatments involve one fast-acting show, which prevents the rabies virus from becoming an infection. Part of the injection is done at the bite site, to stop the infection. Then, you will receive a series of vaccines, which are given in four doses over the course of 14 days.