What to Do for a Dog Bite - First Aid

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 6, 2016
What to Do for a Dog Bite - First Aid

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A dog's bite can be more or less severe depending on the size of the dog and its intentions: a dog can bite because it feels threatened, as a reaction to a stressful situation or due to a past where it was involved in dog sparing. It depends on the dog and the circumstance.

Whatever the reason that has lead a dog to bite you you must treat your wound because otherwise you may suffer a serious infection.

Read on to learn what to do for a dog's bite and how to apply first aid.

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Why do dogs bite

Even when it comes to a very small dog the truth is that all dogs could potentially bite at some point. The training and socialization we offer during its life will determine whether our pet has the predisposition or not to show this behavior.

We could be bitten by a dog in countless occasions and especially if working with animals where we are not familiar with their behavior. Many volunteers in animal shelters will relate to this article as many of them will have been bitten at some point, as has happened to me.

A dog bite does not mean that the dog is bad, this can happen for various reasons which we will have to analyse:

  • It may bite when feeling cornered or threatened
  • After a physical assault
  • Following attempts to use training techniques which are unsuitable.
  • It may redirect its aggression towards us in a moment when it is fighting with another dog (serious consequences of stress)
  • Dominance and control of their 'possessions'
  • Out of fear (if it has never dealt with people)
  • Dogs which are victims of sparing
  • Dogs used in fights
  • Dogs victims of inappropriate play
  • The list goes on...

We must be clear that whatever the reason for the dog biting us the causative factor has nothing to do with us (if you treat it with respect and care) and is instead a sad legacy of its past.

What to Do for a Dog Bite - First Aid - Why do dogs bite

How to deal with a dog that wants to bite

To begin we must act with serenity and calm, although the dog has bitten us or intended to bite us we must under no circumstance shout or get excessively nervous, that would further agitate the dog.

In any case it is fundamental to quickly move away from the stimulus that has agitated the dog while we do small upward tugs on the lead; this latter measure is not about choking the dog, we have to do this in very short time periods as a way of distracting it. Always without harming the dog.

We must try to distract the dog while we move the lead as far as possible from our body. Scatter some treats on the floor or isolate it in a place that is safe for it and for you, these are without doubt the best options.

What to Do for a Dog Bite - First Aid - How to deal with a dog that wants to bite

I have been bitten by a dog, what should I do now?

If in the end, and despite your best effects to avoid it, a dog has bitten you then you must follow the advice of AnimalWised:

  1. If the bite was superficial, start by washing the wound well with soap and water. You must remove all traces of dirt that may have remained on it. If the wound is very large or cumbersome, once cleaned with water you will have to cover it with a sterile gauze to limit bleeding.
  2. Now is the moment to go to the doctor. Dogs have a lot of bacteria in their mouth that can cause an infection, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic treatment.
  3. Finally, if you have not had this previously, the doctor will give you a rabies vaccine, it is very important that you receive this vaccination if the dog is a stray and you do not know its health status. More so if you think it may have rabies.

If instead it is a very deep wound or the skin is torn then you must go immediately to a health center.

What to Do for a Dog Bite - First Aid - I have been bitten by a dog, what should I do now?

After the bite, the consequences

The consequences of a dog bite can be diverse and this will depend on the situation and on you:

  • If the dog that has bitten you belongs to a person and they were on the street then you have the right to file a complaint and you may receive compensation for it. You must be responsible and honest, you can not demand anything if the dog in question was being walked properly (leashed and muzzled if it was a dangerous breed) and it was you who decided to approach.
  • If the dog that has bitten you is a stray or seems to not belong to anyone then it is best to contact whatever body is responsible for animal welfare in your area: local police, animal welfare organisation, town hall... You must not let it happen again as you may put other people at risk or endanger the life of the animal.
  • As a last example we will refer to dogs from an animal shelter, in this case being a volunteer it is likely that you will have assumed and accepted (in writing) the conditions of the center and no doubt will not be able to formalize a complaint. You are a volunteer.
What to Do for a Dog Bite - First Aid - After the bite, the consequences

If you want to read similar articles to What to Do for a Dog Bite - First Aid, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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