Even when a bite from a dog does not result in severe injury, it can be very frightening. A dog bite can also expose you to viruses or bacteria that can cause infection. Therefore, it is important to keep a cool head and respond appropriately despite the fear.
It is a good idea to receive medical attention for a bite even if the wound does not appear serious. Your doctor can recommend whatever treatment options or preventative measures he or she deems appropriate in your particular situation.
It is usually only necessary to receive a rabies vaccine after a dog bite if you cannot verify the animal’s immunization history. Most pet dogs get vaccinations against rabies as a matter of course.
You are more likely to need a tetanus booster. Tetanus is a serious disease caused by bacteria that live in the mouths of dogs. Human beings require boosters of the vaccine every 10 years to maintain immunity.
An open bite wound may require closure with stitches or surgical adhesive. Doctors tend to favor the latter in certain areas.
Some bites are not severe enough to even break the skin’s surface. Nevertheless, bacteria from the dog’s mouth may transfer to your skin. You should wash the area with soap and warm water, applying an antibiotic ointment for good measure. First aid for a bite that breaks the skin is similar, but you should cover the wound with a bandage or a clean cloth and apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
It is important to receive treatment as soon as possible to decrease your chances of getting an infection. Bites in some areas can be more serious than in others. For example, the hands and fingers contain a complex network of nerves, muscles and blood vessels that can become irreparably damaged. Injuries from a dog attack to the mouth or face can also be severe.