A dog bite is a bite inflicted upon a person or another animal by a dog. More than one successive bite is often considered as a dog attack. The majority of dog bites do not result in injury, disfigurement, infection or permanent disability.
Dog bites can cause pain and injury, but they can also spread germs that cause infection. Nearly 1 in 5 people bitten by a dog requires medical attention.
Any dog can bite – know how to enjoy dogs without getting bitten.
Know the Risks
Children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog, and when they are, the injuries can be more severe. Over half of dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to us.
Having a dog in the household is linked to a higher likelihood of being bitten than not having a dog. Among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.
Human activities may increase the risk of a dog bite as does age, height, and movement. The CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association have published recommendations which encourage those that are around dogs to:
- Always ask if it is okay to pet someone else’s dog before reaching out to pet the dog.
- Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog, (“be still like a tree”).
- If a dog knocks you over, curl into a ball while protecting your head and ears with your head tucked and your hands over your ears and neck.
- Immediately let an adult know about any stray dogs or dogs that are behaving strangely.
- report dogs that are behaving strangely
- not approach an unfamiliar dog
- not run from a dog
- not panic or make loud noises
- do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies
- not pet a strange dog
- not encourage your dog to play aggressively
- not allow small children to play with a dog unsupervised
- avoid the dog if it is ill
- avoid waking the dog – call the dog by name
- do not retrieve objects from the dog’s mouth
- avoid face-to-face interaction with the dog
- not disturb the dog while it is eating
- reduce the dog’s interaction with children
- not attempt to break up a dog fight
What to do if you are bitten or attacked by a dog:
- Put your purse, bag, or jacket between you and the dog.
- If you are knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and your hands over your ears and neck.
Wash Wounds with Soap and Water
When you get to a safe place, immediately wash wounds with soap and water. Seek medical attention, especially:
- For minor wounds:
- Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
- Apply an antibiotic cream.
- Cover the wound with a clean bandage.
- See a healthcare provider if the wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen; if you develop a fever; or if the dog that bit you was acting strangely.
- For deep wounds:
- Apply pressure with a clean, dry cloth to stop the bleeding.
- If you cannot stop the bleeding or you feel faint or weak, call 911 or your local emergency medical services immediately.
- See a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
- See a healthcare provider:
- If the wound is serious (uncontrolled bleeding, loss of function, extreme pain, muscle or bone exposure, etc.).
- If the wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen, or if you develop a fever. If you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
- If it has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot and the bite is deep.
Report the Bite
- Because anyone who is bitten by a dog is at risk of getting rabies, contact your local animal control agency or police department to report the incident, especially:
- If you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
- If the dog appears sick or is acting strangely.
- If possible, contact the owner and ensure the animal has a current rabies vaccination.