When someone says “dog bite,” what do you think of? Is it a rabid, wild dog that blocks your path late at night and tries to attack you? Or do you imagine going to someone’s house and being bit by their Rottweiler or German Shepherd? In reality, both of these situations are causes of dog bites. But it’s the scenario that you or a loved one gets bitten by a family dog that’s much more common.
You could be bitten by your own dog or someone’s else’s dog in their home for many different reasons. Dogs often react to strangers in different ways, from running away to attacking if they need to. Kids are often bitten by dogs because they get in the animal’s face or don’t read the dog’s body language that it wants to be left alone.
Regardless of why the dog bit you or your loved one, knowing what to do next is important. These steps are for a bite from a familiar dog, not a wild one that could be rabid.
Steps to Take After a Bit from a Familiar Dog
First, don’t panic. Unless the wound is bleeding profusely, or you were bitten on the head or neck, you should be able to treat the wound at home. If there is a lot of blood, or you were bitten on the neck or head, call 911 immediately.
Second, let it bleed. This may seem counterintuitive, but if the bite is minor, letting it bleed for a few minutes helps clean the wound. After five minutes, use pressure to stop the bleeding. If it doesn’t stop, get medical help immediately.
Third, dress the wound. If it’s a scrape, gash or other superficial wound, clean it with running water, and then hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol. Apply a topical antibiotic and cover the wound with a bandage.
If you have a puncture wound, after you stop the bleeding, you don’t need to use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. In fact, using these can slow down the healing process. You also don’t really need to put a bandage on the wound. But if you choose to, make sure you clean the wound thoroughly before doing so.
What to Do If It’s an Unfamiliar Dog
If you’re bitten by an unfamiliar dog, don’t try to catch the dog. Instead, call 911 immediately. Remember the animal’s behavior. If it seems to be partially paralyzed, acts aggressively, or behaves in a strange way, then it may be rabid. You’ll need to start treatment immediately. At the very least, you’ll need to clean the wound, since dog bites can transfer bacteria and cause infection.
In Florida, there are laws that entitle you to compensation if you’re bitten by someone else’s dog. Call Steinger, Iscoe & Greene today to see how much we can get you after a dog bite in South Florida!