If you have been injured in a dog attack, it is important to treat the dog bite injury immediately to reduce the risk of a bacterial infection. It is also crucial that you have the injury evaluated by a medical professional to determine its severity. There may be instances where you can administer first aid on your own. In other cases, you may need prompt medical treatment or go to the emergency room.
A dog attack is a traumatic event that might leave you dazed or rattled. If you require medical attention, it might be in your best interest to call for help rather than getting to the hospital or emergency room on your own.
What to Do
Here are some steps injured dog bite victims can take immediately after an injury:
- Wash the bite area with soap and water. If you are bleeding, put pressure on it using a clean cloth or bandage.
- Once the bleeding has stopped, put some antibiotic ointment in the area.
- Cover the area with gauze or bandage.
- Take a pain killer if you are experiencing pain.
Get Medical Care
It is important to get medical care if the bite was from a wild or stay animal, if a pet is not up to date on rabies shots or if an animal is sick or acting strangely. You should also get prompt medical attention if the bite has broken the skin or if the dog bite is on the face, head, neck, hand, foot or close to a joint. If a bite becomes red, hot, swollen or more painful, it is best to contact your medical provider o go to the emergency room right away. You may also be at greater risk if you have not had a tetanus shot within the last five years. When you seek medical care it is important to have vital information including:
- The type of breed or dog that bit you
- The date of the dog's last rabies vaccination
- Any recent unusual behavior by the animal
- If the animal was stray or was captured by local animal control officials
Ask About the Dog's Vaccination History
The first step you should take after a dog bite is to put distance between yourself and the dog so you can eliminate the risk of being bitten yet again. Once you have moved away from the threat, it is crucial to determine whether the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. For this, it is important to identify and locate the dog owner. Once you have done that, ask them for the dog's vaccination history in addition to getting the owner's name, address, phone number and veterinarian's contact information. If possible, also ask to see some type of identification. If the dog is unaccompanied, ask someone who witnessed the attack if they are familiar with the dog and know where the owner resides. If you have been bitten by your own dog, be sure to stay on top of your dog's inoculations.
Possible Complications from a Dog Bite
Dog bites have the potential to result in severe complications including:
Infections: Dog bites could result in serious bacterial infections including staph infections. There is particularly a danger when the dog bite breaks the skin. Young children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems may face a greater risk of infection. If a dog has bitten you and you are experiencing infection symptoms, get medical attention right away.
Nerve and muscle damage: A deep bite or puncture wound could cause damage to one's muscles, blood vessels and even nerves.
Broken bones or fractures: A dog bite could even result in bone fractures particularly in the legs, hands or feet. Dog attacks could also result in the victim falling down, which could also result in broken bones.
Rabies: Rabies is a serious viral infection that affects the nervous system and could lead to death within a few days of infection if left untreated. If you have suffered a dog bite and are not certain about the dog's vaccination history, get medical attention immediately.
Tetanus: This is a bacterial disease that is not common in the United States because vaccines are routinely provided. It is recommended that adults receive a tetanus booster shot every 10 years.
Scarring: Dog bites can cause severe and permanent scarring. Dog bite victims often need cosmetic surgery to repair scars.
Death: A vast majority of dog bite fatalities involve children under the age of 10. Children are more vulnerable to fatal dog attacks because of their small size.
Getting Help After a Dog Bite
If your dog bite injury gets worse or if you feel pain or develop a fever, see a doctor right away. One in five dog bites require medical treatment. Here are some scenarios when you should get help after a dog bite:
- Your bite is caused by an unknown rabies vaccine history, or by an animal that is sick or acting strangely
- Your wound does not stop bleeding
- Your bite injury exposes bone or muscle
- Your injury causes loss of function
- The bite looks red or swollen
- The wound leaks pus or fluid
If you have been seriously injured by a dog attack the Los Angeles dog bite lawyers at Vaziri Law Group Personal Injury Attorneys can help. Simply fill out the contact form to request a free consultation.
How do you treat a dog bite at home?
If you have been bitten by a dog at home:
- Place a clean towel over the injury to stop bleeding.
- Try to keep the injured area elevated.
- Wash the bitten area with soap and water.
- Apply a sterile piece of gauze to the wound.
- Apply antibiotic ointment to the injury to prevent infection.
How do you know if a dog bite is serious?
You know a dog bite is serious when you experience significant pain that worsens over time. You may also experience other symptoms such as uncontrollable bleeding, deep lacerations, puncture wounds, broken bones, internal injuries and signs of infections such as redness, warmth, pus or oozing fluid from the wound.
Do you need a tetanus shot for a dog bite?
You may need a tetanus shot if you have not had one within 10 years or if you are unsure of when you last had one. Tetanus bacteria could enter the body through a scratch, bite, burn or anything that breaks the skin.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation and pain and suffering. The experienced California dog bite lawyers at the Vaziri Law Group Personal Injury Attorneys can help you protect your rights and hold the at-fault parties accountable. Call us to schedule your no-cost consultation and case evaluation.