what to do if a dog bites you

November 28, 2017

Most commonly known as “man’s best friend,” dogs are unfortunately not always the friendly companion we grow to know and love. There are instances dogs may look at you more as a threat than a best friend, and those are situations one needs to be well-prepared for. We love to adopt dogs as family members and sometimes forget dogs are still animals with inherent instincts and triggers. It is actually more common for family friend dogs to bite than strange dogs. About 25% of bites result in requiring medical attention so it is important to be prepared if this situation ever occurs to you or someone you know. Risk of infection can prove to be very dangerous and sometimes fatal. It is important to take the necessary measures and keep reading to learn more about what to do in these incidents.

How Dirty is a Dog’s Mouth?

A dog’s bite will usually result in an open, jagged lesion because they use their upper set of teeth to compress the skin and their bottom set to tear and rip.

We’ve all heard the myth that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans…but is it really true? In actuality, comparing dogs to human mouths are similar to comparing apples to oranges – they are very different. A dog’s and human’s mouth host different types of bacteria. The reason why people don’t typically get sick from their dog’s slobbery kisses is because the germs are incompatible, hence why people believe dog’s mouths are cleaner. This is proven to not necessarily be true since humans and dogs carry bacteria that are usually non-transferable to each other. Of course there are exceptions; dogs can transfer bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus and pasteurella to humans which can lead to infection if not treated properly.

Some dogs may be unvaccinated and can carry and transfer rabies. If you are bitten by a dog that has rabies, it is crucial to be treated early or it may become fatal.

Dog Bite Treatment at Home

Although the majority of bites can be taken care of with a first aid kit, it is important to make a doctor’s appointment in case your wound is more serious than you think. Dog bites can vary in severity depending on if the bite breaks the skin, damages tissue/bones, gets infected, etc. To immediately remedy your bite, here is what you can do at home before seeking a doctor within 6-8 hours.

  • Using a clean towel, softly press on the wound to help stop the bleeding (if any).
  • Gently wash out the wound using mild soap and water.
  • Pat cleaned wound with fresh dry towel.
  • Apply over-the-counter antibiotic cream on the wound if it is available.
  • Wrap the wound with a sterile bandage. Keep your wound wrapped and change several times a day to help prevent infection.


Take Photographic Evidence

Take photos of your laceration(s) as soon as possible as evidence for your attack. It would also help to take photos of the dog and initial wound/torn clothing. It is important to gather as much evidence and information as you can.

Report the Attack

Report what happened to your local police department or animal control agency. Describe in detail what occurred and provide all contact information about the owner and dog. If the dog is unknown or stray, try to best describe the dog breed, and location of the incident.

Seek a Reputable Attorney Firm

If you would like to press charges, find experienced Dog Bite lawyers to represent your case. Hiring a skilled lawyer with knowledge and experience with the California Dog Bite Law to investigate will help significantly increase your chances of success. This is an instance you would want prompt action taken as soon as possible to locate witnesses, defendants, and preserve evidence. Do not discuss anything about the incident or sign any documents with the defendant’s insurance company without discussing with your attorney first. Anything you tell the insurance company can be used against you. If successful, you will be entitled to recover full compensation for all damages accrued.

A dog attack can is a terrifying experience for those involved and it is best to be prepared to help manage the situation by taking the necessary steps to resolve it. First priority is avoiding infection after the dog attack. Properly sterilize your wound before seeking medical attention on the same day. If you want to take further action, report the incident to the police department and contact an experienced law firm to help you seek compensation. This information can be very useful especially for those who are dog owners or are frequently around dogs to be informed of what to do in the event of a dog attack.

Related: How to Avoid Potential Dog Bites