A guide to safely treating dog bites

Nobody wants to get bitten by a dog, but it is important for everyone to know what to do if a bite incident occurs.

Dogs are ubiquitous in California, and they bring a lot of fun and companionship to many people's lives throughout the country as well. Unfortunately, they are also descended from predatory wolves, and as such, they have powerful jaws that can deliver some pretty devastating injuries. Hopefully, if an animal is well-trained, nobody will ever have to deal with the aftermath of a dog bite. Like all animals, however, dogs can be unpredictable, and sometimes circumstances arise that lead to an unexpected incident. If this does happen, it is good for people to be prepared by knowing how to treat these injuries in order to expedite healing and avoid infection.

Basic dog bite first aid

There are some simple steps that everyone should follow when dealing with a dog bite injury. The first step is to wash the wound using water and soap. Elevating the injured area and pressing a clean towel over it can be an effective way to staunch bleeding.

Once the bleeding has been stopped, applying antibiotic ointment is a good measure as well, but people should keep in mind that a fresh coat should be applied each day. Along with this goes the use of fresh bandages. The wound should be covered with a sterile bandage, and the bandage should be changed daily when the new ointment is applied.

When to see the doctor

Whether the dog is big or small, if the bite punctures the skin, it is important to see a doctor. This is because it can be difficult to prevent an infection with at-home care, and because there could be additional damage beneath the surface that is not immediately apparent. If the bleeding won't stop, or if the bite is particularly deep, it may be necessary to go to an urgent care facility to avoid the potentially catastrophic events of blood loss.

When visiting the doctor, he or she may examine motor function and the vascular system, in order to ascertain whether or not there was any damage to the nerves or veins. There are some different types of wounds, including crushing, puncture and laceration. The doctor will be able to classify the exact nature of the wound and thus be better able to address it with the proper treatment. When speaking with the doctor, it is helpful if he or she is able to access the patient's records in order to see immunization history (especially for tetanus), medication allergies or any preexisting conditions.

Anyone who has been bitten by a dog in California may be dealing with expensive medical fees, or could potentially have his or her life altered by the injury. An attorney in the local area who practices personal injury law may be able to help assess the likelihood of obtaining financial compensation.