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What do you do after a dog bite?

A bite from a dog can be a terrifying experience. This is true whether the animal attacks you or a member of your family, especially a young child.

Despite the fear, you should know what to do after a dog bite. It is most important for the bite to receive appropriate medical attention, but there are other steps you need to take as well.

First aid

Appropriate first aid for a dog bite depends on the severity of the wound. If it is bleeding profusely, you should cover the wound with a clean, dry cloth and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. A deep bite like this probably requires immediate medical treatment, so you should go directly to the emergency room or call 911.

If the wound is minor, you can cover it with a clean bandage after washing thoroughly with soap and water. You can also apply antibiotic cream to prevent infection if you have any available.

Immunization

Most people who receive dog bites do not have to have a rabies vaccination. This is usually only necessary when it is not possible to verify the dog’s immunization history. However, dog bites can also spread tetanus. Therefore, you may need a booster shot, especially if it has been more than five years since your last one.

Information gathering and reporting

Get the dog owner’s name and contact information, if possible. You will need this information later to verify the dog’s vaccination history or if you decide to take legal action. If there is a chance that the dog had rabies or if you are not able to determine the dog’s owner, you may want to report the bite to law enforcement.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to know what to do if a dog bites your child. Children are at greater risk for this type of animal attack than adults.