What should I do after a dog bites me?

Whether it is from your own beloved pup, a friend’s animal or even a stray, dog bites are frightening. The end result usually ranges from a mild bruise to a severe injury that might leave permanent damage.

Here is some information from the Cleveland Clinic on what to do if a dog bites you.

Act immediately

The most important thing to do right after a dog bite is to treat the wound with the purpose of preventing an infection. You should wash the area gingerly and hold it under warm tap water for several minutes. Then take a clean cloth and press it to your skin to stop the bleeding. If you have an antibiotic cream on hand, use it. Follow this by carefully applying a sterile bandage or wrap.

Seek professional medical attention

It is important to see the doctor that same day so she or he can assess whether there is serious damage. When a dog bites, the animal’s teeth can affect you in multiple ways. First, the teeth grasp your tissue and compress it. Second, the teeth can break your skin, creating an open wound. Both of these actions leave you with the potential for infection.

Infection from an animal bite can be serious. To prevent it, your doctor may give you one or more of the following treatments:

  • Intravenous antibiotics
  • A tetanus booster if you have not had one in recent years
  • Stitches if there is an open wound

There is also the possibility of hospitalization. Keep in mind that if you have an immunocompromised system or a condition such as diabetes, your risk of infection is higher. While it is best to see your doctor as quickly as possible, at most you should seek medical care within 8 hours.