What Should I Do If My Dog Bites Me?

Dogs are a man’s best friend, but sometimes even man’s best friend can be cranky. If your dog bites you, which can happen to anyone, what should your next steps be?

Our AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah team answers that question and provides further helpful information below, so keep reading!

Should I Go to the Doctor if I’ve Been Bitten?

While some bites don’t absolutely require medical attention to properly heal, most experts still recommend seeking medical care 24 hours after you’ve been bitten—especially if the bite has broken the skin. Dog bites can cause medical problems that aren’t immediately obvious, such as bacterial infection.

Dog bites are classified by severity, and it’s absolutely necessary to seek medical care if your bite is at level four or above. If this is the case for your bite wound, you might need stitches for the wound to properly heal.

Types of Dog Bites

  • Level 1: The dog’s teeth don’t touch the skin.
  • Level 2: The dog’s teeth touch, but do not break, the skin.
  • Level 3: There are one to four shallow puncture wounds in the skin.
  • Level 4: One to four punctures from a single bite. At least one puncture wound is deep.
  • Level 5: Multiple bites, including some deep puncture wounds. This level most typically results from a dog attack.

Should I Do Anything Before Seeking Medical Care for an Animal Bite?

The first thing you should do once you’ve been bitten is to care for the wound the best you can at home.

You can care for your wound by first stopping the bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cloth until the bleeding stops. Then, wash the affected area with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. This will decrease the odds of a dog bite infection. Lastly, put a dry, clean bandage over the wound.

Signs Further Medical Care Is Necessary

  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes of pressure
  • If the bite has broken the skin. A tetanus shot may be necessary to reduce the possibility of tetanus infection.
  • If you were bitten by a wild or stray dog or you are unable to obtain the animal’s immunization records from the owner
  • If you have a weakened immune system, either due to an illness (such as diabetes) or medical treatment (such as chemotherapy)
  • If you notice any signs of infection, including redness, swelling, warmth or pus

If your dog bites you, don’t hesitate to get the care you need by visiting our AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah center today!