When Does a Dog Bite Require Medical Attention?

When Does a Dog Bite Require Medical AttentionWhen Does a Dog Bite Require Medical Attention?

Have you been bitten by dog? Do you know what constitutes as a dog bite?

Animal control and public health departments define “dog bite” as any incident involving a person’s skin breaking by a dog’s tooth or nail. In fact, many “dog bites” the general public defines as playful or accidental can legally be considered a “dog bite.” These “dog bites” include nips from playful puppies, scratches from a dog’s nail, and accidental bites by dogs.

Considering the broad definition of a dog bite, many do not permit an emergency room visit. Of the 4.5 million reported dog bite cases each year, 850,000 require medical attention, in which 30 to 35 result in death.

But what if an accidental bite from a neighborhood pit bull leaves you in pain? Do you know the distinguishing factors of a dog bite that does require medical attention?

First and foremost, the average human doesn’t have the knowledge or the experience to treat dog bites. Seeking immediate medical help reduces the risk of infection and minimizes the severity of the scar.  Although medical attention is not needed for every dog bite, it is often encouraged.

When do I need to see a doctor?

  • Wounds do not heal
  • Continuous bleeding
  • Skin is punctured, lacerated or torn
  • Signs of infection- rabies immunization need to begin within 48 hours after the dog bite
  • Unfamiliar dogs
  • Rabies infected dogs

*Children are more likely to require medical attention (lack of extra tissue)

Which medical conditions increase my risk of infection?

  • Chronic edema of the extremity
  • Diabetes
  • Immunosuppression (often occurs in individuals who have undergone chemotherapy or have HIV or Lupus)
  • Prosthetic valve or joint
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Individuals who have undergone a mastectomy
  • Individuals who have undergone a splenectomy

At what point does my wound require surgical treatment?

  • Torn flesh
  • Skin loss or damage

How common are infections?

  1. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of dog bite wounds become infected.
  2. Common signs of infection include swelling, warmth, redness, and presence of pus.
  3. Crush injuries, puncture wounds and hand wounds are more susceptible to infection.
  4. Nearly 64 species of bacteria live inside a dog’s mouth.

F.I.D.O., the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, Inc., now offers the Covered Canine Policy, an exclusive product and benefit for F.I.D.O. members only. This policy is available in California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin. It will protect you should your dog bite an individual and cause harm. It does not exclude any breed of dog and starts as low as $75 per dog, per year.


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