Dog Bites: See a Doctor or Treat At Home?

Millions of people are attacked by dogs every year in the United States. Specifically, that number reaches nearly 4 million. Some bites are superficial or classified as minor, while others prove to be fatal. Dog bites may sometimes result in medical complications that aren’t immediately apparent, like rabies for example. Severity can also depend on the breed of dog.

When you are seriously injured due to a dog bite, seeing a doctor as soon as possible can help you avoid any health problems that could be long-lasting.

These are the different varieties of dog bites, with the severity determined by levels:

Level 1: A dog’s teeth do not come into contact with the skin.

Level 2: The teeth make contact with the skin but do not break it.

Level 3: As many as four teeth pierce the skin, but are superficial.

Level 4: Up to four wounds from a single bite that pierce the skin deeply.

Level 5: Several severe bites that have pierced the skin deeply, as a result of a dog attack.

Treating a Dog Bite At Home

When you are treating a dog bite at your home, you first want to briefly evaluate the injury. When blood is present, it is important to quickly wash the bitten area as quickly as possible with soap and water. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped, use a clean bandage or towe to exert pressure for up to five minute or until it stops. After you’ve stopped any bleeding, use soap and water again to clean the wound thoroughly to reduce the risk of infection.

To further avoid infection, as well as swelling, keep the bite area elevated above your heart. If it is an open wound, wrap it lightly with a new bandage.

If available, attempt to obtain the dog’s immunization records from its owner. This will assist your doctor in determining what treatment you may need later. If the dog’s owner is not around, a call to animal control should be placed. This will prevent the dog from biting another person and they can also be tested for rabies.

When the dog bite is between levels 1-3, it can most likely be treated at home. However, after the initial treatment, you will need to check your wounds regularly for indications of infection, such as swelling, redness or a whitish-yellow discharge. Also, don’t forget to wash it every day.

When Is the Right Time To Visit a Doctor After a Dog Bite?

If a dog bite victim is bleeding severely and has several wounds, call 911, as emergency help is needed.

However, if the bite doesn’t justify a 911 call, but you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, see a doctor right away.

– After 15 minutes of pressure, the bleeding continues.

– A tetanus shot may be needed if the dog’s teeth broke the skin during a bite. A shot could lower the risk of a tetanus infection.

– If you do not have access to the dog’s vaccination records, a doctor should test and treat you.

– If you have a weak immune system, a dog bite could prove hazardous to your health.

– Any indications of infection arise, such as pus, swelling, a fever, or redness.

A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent or heal an infection, but this will depend on the seriousness of the bite and the person’s condition. If it’s clear the dog has rabies or if the dog’s health is unclear, the person will require a course of rabies shots to avoid contracting the illness.

Your Legal Options

If you were bitten by a stray, you may not be able to collect compensation after a dog bite. However, if the dog has an owner and it was their fault the animal bit you, you may have a case. If you are from New Jersey and were attacked, set up an appointment with a dog bite lawyer in Paterson, New Jersey or dog bite lawyer in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. A local lawyer will know the ins and outs of a lawsuit involving a dog attack. After consulting with a lawyer, you will know what next steps you can and may take.

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