dog bites: What to do when a dog bites you

Dog Bites: What to do if a Dog Bites You

Ah, dogs. Canis Familiaris. Man’s best friend. Over millennia, our complex relationship with these loveable animals has gone from one of simply hunting and provision to a deep-rooted love. An undying companionship, if you will. In many households the world over, they are seen not only as pets but as members of the family, jealously guarded. Indeed, it is not a stretch to say that no other animal has set our hearts ablaze quite like the humble dog.

It is important to note, however, that they are still, after all, animals. Animals who, no matter how well trained or domesticated, will still, on occasion, revert to their more aggressive and primal mannerisms, prime among which is biting. This should not look like an error on the part of the owner, however, as it is natural for nature to take its course.

Let us be better acquainted with dog bites, see their effects, and how best to treat and prevent them.

Why do dogs bite?

Whilst your beloved canine companion might bite you or anyone else in the vicinity for a variety of reasons, it is widely accepted by dog experts that dogs bite when they feel threatened, startled, or agitated. Even for the best-behaved dogs, seeing their food, a litter of pups, or playtoy touched is enough to infuriate them enough to want to retaliate. 

For dogs with debilitating diseases like rabies, their biting comes with no rhyme or reason. Rabies causes severe inflammation of the canine brain, bombarding the dog with a violent cocktail of psychotic episodes and violent outbursts. Hence, they lash out and bite without due provocation.

The average dog bite packs a punch too and at 310 pounds per square inch, it would be wise not to blur the murky lines between bark and bite. This varies from dog to dog, however, with the burlier and more aggressive ones clocking in a frightening 645 pounds per square inch.

A study by the US Center for Drugs and Substance Control showed that over 4.5 million people in the US alone, and more than 80 million worldwide, were victims of dog bites. Closer home, a study conducted in Nigeria unearthed well over a hundred thousand dog bites an annum, ten thousand of which were either infected or fatal. This might just be a fraction of the number, however, as numerous such instances go undocumented.

Effects of dog bites

Depending on the bite itself, the dog bite can be anything from mild to potentially fatal. At the very instant a dog bites you, several factors come into play including the severity of the bite, the clothing worn, and the size of the dog. While a spitz puppy’s nib wouldn’t do so much as break skin, causing slight bleeding at the most, a fully-grown Bastian Mastiff tearing a chunk out of your flesh could cause breakage of bones and fatal bleeding.

Ligament, tissue, muscle, and bone damage caused by dog bites is a double-edged sword in that, not only can the immediate shock or bleeding render you dead swiftly, the potentially permanent injuries and ever lingering risks of bone and tissue infections mean that one simple dog bite can literally dog you for the rest of your mortal coil (forgive the pun).

By far, however, the most dangerous part of a dog bite is the risk of infection. Whilst rabies is undoubtedly the most feared of diseases transmitted by dog bites, scratches, or contact of saliva with an open wound, it is of note that over 20 percent of fatal dog bites are due to tetanus and sepsis. Though similar in many ways, there are telltale distinctions between the three in terms of symptoms:

Rabies symptoms

  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Convulsion
  • Mouth foaming

Tetanus symptoms:

  • Lockjaw
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stiffness
  • Fever

Sepsis symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Cold sweats
  • Violent headaches

These diseases are a deadly trifecta, and though not necessarily deadly they remain an ever-present threat with each dog bite.

What to do in the event of a dog bite

Not all dog bites, no matter how grotesque, have to end in tragedy. Though, in the unfortunate event of a dog bite, health experts suggest the following should be done urgently.

Ask the dog owner for the dog’s vaccination history

If the dog’s owner is in sight, finding out about the dog’s history of vaccination will go a long way in helping the injured person know how severe the case is. An infected dog poses a far greater threat whilst a dog that is regularly vaccinated alleviates the risk of infection in the event of a bite.

Examine the wound

The state of the wound is indicative of how badly the person is injured. Whilst a red and sore wound indicates abrasive damage on the surface, a festering and swollen wound is alarming and raises the possibility of infection.

Wash the wound

Using warm water and a cloth, gently clean the wounded area, making sure not to press too hard. This helps wash away dirt or any foreign particles that may harbor bacteria.

Press a clean cloth across the wound

While looking for a bandage, press a clean cloth across the wound to prevent further bleeding.

Antibacterial ointment

Apply an antibacterial ointment across the wound with the cloth, disinfecting the wound and giving the bite victim temporary relief.

Bandage the victim

If someone conversant with first aid is in the vicinity, ask them to help you bandage the victim. If not, cover up the wound in a swathe of bandages and tightly close it.

Call for medical help/Take the victim to a nearby medical facility

A rabies shot delivered at a medical facility as soon as possible after the bite is often the difference between life and death in regards to a severe dog bite.

Final Thoughts on what to do when a dog bites you

In conclusion, dog bites, though a terrifying and unthinkable prospect, especially for man’s best friend, can happen but are preventable. Proper training of dogs and instilling disciplined habits, regular health check-ups at veterinary services and not being aggressive with our furry companions go a long way in preventing dog bites.

If you are interested in reading more about dogs, you can start here:Mexican Dog Breeds, Foods Toxic to Dogs, Canine Herpes, Smells That Dogs Hate, The most popular breeds of dogs, Most Expensive Dog Breeds, How to Prevent Dog Fights, Poodle-Shih Tzu Mix, The German sheprador, Female Italian Dog Names, Spanish Dog Names, Female Dog Names In French

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