Dog Bite First Aid Tips
Despite the popular saying, dogs are not always man’s best friend. In 2007, there were more than 2,000 dog bites in Colorado. Nearly half of these attacks happened at someone’s home, so these dog bites are not always caused by stray dogs. Any dog—even the sweetest family dog—can bite and cause serious injuries.
Children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog. Dog bites can be disfiguring. In fact, 20 percent of dog bites require medical attention, with many causing scarring. If you or a loved one was bitten by a dog, here are things you can do to treat the injury until you can get to the hospital.
At-Home Dog Bite Treatment
Some bites are minor and do not need emergency treatment. Follow these steps immediately after a dog bite for the best chance of success:
- Try to stop the bleeding by placing a clean towel over the dog bite;
- Elevate the injured area;
- Use soap and water to wash the wound;
- Wash the wound again with hydrogen peroxide;
- Apply antibiotic ointment to the wound;
- Cover the wound with a sterile bandage; and
- Continue to apply the ointment to the wound every day until it heals to keep infection from occurring.
Treating Puncture Wounds
If the bite has caused a puncture wound, the treatment process is a bit different. First, you can let the wound bleed for five minutes. This is actually good, as it cleanses the wound. However, if the wound is in the head or neck, or if blood is gushing from the wound, get emergency help immediately before your body loses too much blood.
After five minutes, apply pressure to the wound to get the bleeding to stop. If it does not stop, call 911. If it does stop, wash it under running water with mild soap for five minutes.
Do not use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol on puncture wounds, as this can affect the healing process. You don’t necessarily need to bandage a puncture wound, but if you do, just be sure to thoroughly cleanse the wound first so you don’t trap bacteria and debris in the wound.
Visiting the Doctor
Even if you were able to stop the bleeding at home, you should still visit the doctor as soon as possible to have the wound assessed. The doctor will clean the wound and possibly stitch it up if there is a risk of scarring. Dog bites carry a high risk of infection, so you may need antibiotics. Rabies is not common in the United States, but is a slight concern, particularly if you don’t know the dog who bit you. You may need a tetanus shot as a precaution.
Contact a Colorado Dog Bite Lawyer
If you were seriously bitten by a dog, you need to understand your legal rights. The dog owner could be liable for your injuries and be forced to pay you compensation for damages such as medical bills and time off work. Determining liability can be difficult, however, so contact the Law Office of Steve Roberts, LLC for legal assistance. Give us a call at (720) 515-7058 for a free case evaluation.