Dogs are our best friends. They protect us from danger, cuddle with us when we feel lonely, and they even give us unconditional love. But if you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you know it can be both traumatic and painful. Luckily, not all bites result in serious injury. Here’s how to deal with a bite if it happens to you.
Wash the Wound With Soap and Water
First, wash the wound with soap and water. This will help protect the wound from infection. Be sure to remove any debris that may have gotten into the wound, as this can lead to serious infection. You can also apply pressure with a clean towel directly to the wound to help decrease the bleeding.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
If you were bitten by a dog who has not been vaccinated, you should seek medical attention immediately. If the bite is deep or dirty, then it is possible that rabies may be transmitted into your system. Rabies is a serious and often fatal disease in humans and can be prevented in dogs with vaccination.
Even if the bite didn’t break the skin, seeing a doctor to document the bite may still be a good idea. Your documentation may be helpful in preventing the dog from biting anyone again in the future.
Once you are at the doctor’s office, they will typically clean and bandage your wound. They may also prescribe antibiotics depending on the severity of the wound.
You should also take pictures of your injury as soon as possible after it has happened in order to document any damage that may result from the injury.
Seek Legal Advice to Avoid Any Issue of Liability on Your Part
It is important that you not let this go without seeking legal advice first. The dog’s owner may be legally liable for any injuries sustained as a result of their dog’s actions so it is imperative that you contact a personal injury attorney before taking any action on your own behalf. Depending on the dog’s breed, whether or not you were on the dog owner’s property, and the owner’s own sense of responsibility, homeowners insurance may not cover your expenses from the bite. Your personal injury attorney can help ensure that someone, whether it’s a homeowners insurance policy or the dog’s owner, pays for your medical expenses and any additional pain and suffering.
Get Rabies Shots if Applicable
If the dog is unvaccinated, it’s possible (though unlikely) that the dog has rabies. Ask the owner for their dog’s vaccine record. If they refuse to hand it over, your attorney can help you with this as well.
If the dog is unvaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the dog’s owner hold the dog in quarantine for 10 days if the dog appeared healthy when it bit you. If the dog doesn’t develop signs of rabies, you don’t need to get rabies shots. If it does, then you’ll need to talk to your doctor about rabies shots.
Dogs can be great companions, but being bitten by one can be an unpleasant experience. It is important to know what to do if you are bitten by someone else’s dog. From avoiding infection to documenting proof to legal advice, each step you take matters.
Author information: Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University and now writes articles about health, business, family, and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.