A dog bite is no small thing. Dog bites can transfer disease as well as become infected easily. Knowing what to do in the event of a bite is vital, even if you don't own a dog, since it is always possible to come in contact with a dog outside of the home. The following first aid guide can help.
The first task is to make sure the bite didn't sever any major arteries. Bleeding is natural and healthy, but you do not want the blood to be spurting – particularly in time with the heartbeat. If it is spurting, you need to press firmly on the wound to stem the blood flow. Tie a tourniquet above the wound if it is on a limb – between the wound and the heart – then call emergency services immediately. For non-spurting wounds, continue to follow the steps below.
Bleeding helps rinse bacteria from the bite. Since most complications from dog bites are the result of severe bacterial infections, this is vital. Following the bite, allow it to bleed until the blood flow begins to slow. If the wound broke the skin but is not bleeding, press on it lightly with a piece of clean guaze to encourage some blood flow.
As the bleeding begins to slow and the natural flushing process ends, switch to washing. The best thing to wash a bite out with is soap and water. First, rinse the wound thoroughly with water, then use soap to gently clean out the wound. Finish by rinsing a final time with clear water. There will likely be some fresh bleeding, but this is not a concern.
After washing, the wound should be coated in an antibacterial ointment and covered with fresh gauze that is taped in place. A doctor should also be contacted, as you may need to have antibiotics prescribed. Wash the wound several times a day. Follow each wash with the reapplication of ointment and fresh gauze.
Check the wound daily to ensure it is healing without infection. If the wound becomes very red, becomes hot to the touch, or begins seeping pus or other fluids, contact a medical professional right away. Fever or vomiting can also indicate an infection that needs further medical treatment.
If possible, you may also want to get the vaccination records of the dog that bit you, particularly if it was a stranger's dog. This can help you avoid the pain of rabies shots, which may be necessary if you were bitten by a stray dog that cannot be secured and tested. Contact a first aid safety instructor to learn more first aid tips.