Although the vast majority of dogs are delightful pets who wouldn’t dream of hurting you, almost 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States, according to CDC statistics. Out of those 4.5 million bites, 800,000 are serious enough to need medical care. Most people are aware that a dog’s teeth and jaws can cause deep lacerations that can lead to blood loss and even death, but not everyone is aware of another dangerous risk: dog bite infections. In fact, almost 1 out of every 5 dog bite victims develops an infection.
If you or a loved one has been bitten seriously enough for the dog’s teeth to pierce your skin, you should seek medical help. You may not be bleeding enough to warrant stitches – or even a band-aid, but you still need to be extremely cautious to avoid an infection from a dog bite.
Proper Care to Combat Dog Bite Infections
After the bite:
- Irrigate the wound thoroughly with running water for 5-10 minutes. Wash the area around the teeth marks with soap and water.
- If you have antibiotic ointment, apply it.
- Wrap the wound in a bandage or sterile cloth so that germs can’t enter it.
- Visit your doctor as soon as possible, but certainly within a few hours.
- Get as much information about the dog from its owner. For example, the dog should have a vaccination record. In Indiana, dogs are required to be vaccinated against rabies at 3 months and then boosted accordingly.
The doctor will:
- Use a saline solution to irrigate the wound.
- Report the wound to the local health department where you live (it’s the law).
- Give you a tetanus shot if you have not had a booster within the past 10 years if it is a clean wound, or the past 5 years if it is not a clean wound.
- Possibly prescribe an antibiotic cream.
- If the doctor is concerned about infection, he or she may prescribe oral antibiotics to be used as a precautionary (prophylactic) measure.
- The AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) reports that a course of oral antibiotics is generally prescribed for 3-7 days.
- Antibiotics most frequently prescribed to prevent infections from dog bites:
- Penicillin VK plus dicloxacillin
- A fluoroquinolone
Dog bite infection symptoms:
- Blisters around the bite wound within a few hours of being bitten
- Redness or swelling at the bite wound
- Oozing pus
- Diarrhea and/or stomach pain
- Headache and/or confusion
- Muscle or joint pain
Symptoms of Staphylococcus and Streptococcus dog bite infections:
- Swelling and/or redness on or around the bite
- Flu-like symptoms
- Blistering or oozing around the wound
- Swelling or inflammation of the joints
- Nausea and vomiting
- Red streaks near the bite
- Night sweats
Although about half of dog bites introduce the bacteria of Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, there are other bacteria to be aware of:
Are dog bites dangerous?
According to the NIH, half of the infected wounds from dog bites showed multiple pathogenic organisms. These infections can be treated if caught early enough, but if not treated, they can lead to dangerous conditions:
Any dog bite is traumatic, not to mention painful. If you have been bitten, you will face medical bills that will increase exponentially if the bite causes an infection. In the worst-case scenarios, you could lose a limb or be permanently disabled as a result of a dog bite infection.
At Crossen Law Firm, we can work to make sure that you receive financial compensation for your economic and noneconomic losses after a serious dog bite injury. We will be able to determine if the dog owner was negligent or acted recklessly. We will also deal with the relevant insurance company so that you don’t have to worry while recuperating
Our experienced Indianapolis dog bite injury attorneys at Crossen Law Firm have decades of experience handling all kinds of personal injury claims, including dog bites. To schedule a free consultation with one of our reputable personal injury attorneys, dial (317) 401-8626 now or contact us online.