German shepherd looking alert

How to Treat a Dog Bite & When You Should See a Doctor

Proper medical treatment is crucial after a dog bite. But does that mean you need to go to the doctor after a dog bite no matter its severity? Not necessarily, but involving a medical professional is a good idea for most cases.

How to Treat a Dog Bite

For mild or nonserious dog bites, you might be able to treat it yourself with medical supplies in your home. Please keep in mind that this information is not meant to represent advice from a medical professional. If you are worried that your bite could be serious, then we encourage you to talk to a trusted medical provider as soon as possible.

To treat a nonserious dog bite of varying severity:

  • Does not break the skin: A dog bite that does not break the skin poses the least danger. The affected skin should be cleaned to wash away any lingering bacteria and dirt, though. If the area is swollen, then an ice pack should be applied. An off-the-shelf painkiller can be used for any aches.
  • Breaks the skin: A dog bite that breaks the skin can be more dangerous due to the risk of infection and bleeding. The wound should be cleaned thoroughly using medical-grade alcohol or disinfectant. Minor wounds can be dressed in gauze and bandages to apply weak pressure to the wound, stop the bleeding, and protect it from further contamination.

Warning Signs That Your Bite May Need Medical Attention

A dog bite injury might require medical attention from an urgent care facility if:

  • Bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes after applying pressure or a bandage
  • Bleeding is profuse or pulses – call 911
  • Bite was caused by a wild or stray dog
  • Wound swells abnormally or shows signs of infection
  • Victim has known immune system deficiencies
  • Victim has not had a tetanus shot within 10 years

Why Seeing a Doctor is Always a Good Idea

As a general safety rule, you should plan on seeing a medical provider soon after suffering any dog bite that breaks the skin and causes bleeding. A doctor can determine if you need a tetanus booster, which should be administered once every 10 years. There is also a risk that the dog could have rabies, which will require a different vaccination if you do not have it. Rabies prevention needs to begin within 24 hours of the bite.

Also, seeing a medical provider helps your dog bite injury claim if you decide to file one later. Without a medical professional’s diagnosis of your injury, the dog owner and their insurer will have an easier time contesting its severity and the damage it has caused. You should make your case stronger by seeing a doctor, even if you think your injury is going to be fine.

Murray & Murray in Sandusky, Ohio can help locals figure out the details of their dog bite claims. Contact us online if you have recently been attacked by someone else’s dog and suffered serious injuries.