It is every parent’s nightmare — you send your child outside to play with friends, and he returns home bloodied and crying. First, you wash off the blood and assess the damage. With dog bites, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seeking medical care under certain conditions such as extreme bleeding, intense pain or exposed bone. Other serious symptoms, like swelling and fever, may appear hours or days later.
Do not let financial concerns dictate the care your child will receive going forward. Pet owners are responsible for taking care of the monetary aspects, and their insurance may cover everything. Your priority is ensuring that your child gets all the care he needs.
Your child’s injuries will determine your course of action. Puncture wounds may get infected, calling for antibiotics. Any long or deep cuts may require stitches. If the dog is familiar or you can contact the owner, ask about rabies vaccinations. If necessary, a physician may begin a rabies protocol to help prevent or treat possible exposure.
Long-term medical care
Bite wounds may go much deeper than surface cuts and bruises. A bite may cause breaks or fractures in the small bones of forearms, wrists and hands. Also be sure to check for damaged or severed tendons.
Injuries on the face, head and neck may require plastic surgery, and growing children may need more than one procedure. Whatever the case, be sure you go to all follow-up appointments as advised by medical professionals.
Your child’s physical injuries may seem minor, perhaps just a few cuts or bruises. However, the mental and emotional effects may be more serious. To minimize long-term negative effects, talk about the incident with your child. Encourage him to recount the situation, communicating openly about how he felt at the time and how he feels now. Children need to know that they are not to blame and that they need not be fearful of every dog they encounter in the future.