dog bite

How to Treat a Dog Bite

If your child has been bitten by a dog, it’s important that you take care of the injury right away. In some cases you can provide first aid at home, but in more severe cases you’ll need immediate medical attention. Keep reading to learn the steps you should take following a dog bite.

Administer first aid

Having your child bitten by a dog can be quite a scary experience, but it is important that you remain calm. Instruct your child to stand like a tree – a popular dog bite safety measure – so you can have a look at the bite.

X If it’s a minor, superficial wound, a simple first aid procedure is to clean the wound with water, soap, and hydrogen peroxide, apply a topical antibiotic, and cover the bite with a clean and sterile bandage to prevent infection.

X If it’s a deep puncture or open wound, apply direct pressure on the wound with a dry cloth to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding stops, clean the wound with soap and water. With these wounds, even if you are able to stop the bleeding, take your child to the doctor immediately to evaluate the wound more thoroughly because closure with suture and oral antibiotics may be necessary.

Seek medical attention

A visit to the doctor is essential if the wound is deep or hasn’t stopped bleeding after you’ve applied direct pressure with a cloth. Also, dog bites can easily become infected, so take your child to the doctor.  If you see any signs of swelling, tenderness, pus draining, irritation, or redness, those signs are an indication of infection of the skin. If the bite becomes infected, the doctor will give your child antibiotics to treat the infection. But, antibiotics may be started empirically to prevent infection. Also, closure of the wound may be necessary with sutures. And if your child’s vaccination against tetanus is not up to date, they may get a tetanus shot.

Get information about the dog or report the incident

If the dog that bit your child is accompanied by its owner, ask the owner for the dog’s vaccination history to rule out any rabies concern. As taking care of the wound should be done right away, ask for the owner’s telephone number so you can get in contact with them later. If the dog that bit your child was a stray dog, you may feel that other children remain in danger, so report the incident to your local animal control services agency so they can investigate and take action if required. Rabies is a concern for unvaccinated dogs and should be discussed with the physician tending to your child.

Dog bites vary in severity, but are a cause of concern nonetheless. As a parent, you can take care of most minor dog bites yourself, but seek medical attention if you suspect the bite to be more severe or you are unsure about treatment. Feel free to reach out to your pediatrician or local pediatric urgent care for more information or evaluation.