dog bites

Five Steps for Treating a Dog Bite

I’ve had two experiences with dog bites. One, the worst, was when my son picked up a relative’s dog’s bone and brought it over to him. He was around six years old at the time and nearly lost an eye. He still has scars on his eyelid, next to his eye, his cheek bone and on his lip. It was one of the scariest days of my life! I’m not a breed bully but to this day I can’t look at that type of dog without seeing my poor baby’s face and feeling that wave of panic and horror. 

The second dog bite was my own personal experience about three years ago. After our house burnt we rented a house in a nice quiet neighborhood for a couple of months until we bought the one where we currently live. One afternoon as I was walking on the sidewalk and turning into my driveway the neighbor’s dog up and across the street charged. It bit me in my leg right through the only pair of capri’s I’d managed to replace. I had a bruise on that leg for six months! And a pretty good reason to finally put an offer in on the house we’d been coveting. 

So, I know from experience that when a dog bite happens it is scary. When Kara sent me over this guest post I didn’t hesitate to share the information. Armed with knowledge before any kind of traumatic experience, you’ve got a much better chance dealing with it should it ever happen! 

1  Control bleeding

Press down on the wound as hard as possible with a clean cloth or other available absorbent material. If you bleed through the cloth, pile more on, but do not remove any bandages. If the bleeding is not stopping or slowing, or if it is pulsating, go to the hospital immediately.

2  Clean the bite

If the bite is not deep, you should be able to treat it yourself. Once the bleeding has stopped (or slowed significantly), clean out the area of the bite with warm water and soap. This may be uncomfortable for some children, but make sure to clean out the inside of the wound. Rinse well to prevent any irritation or infection later.

3  Bandage and watch for infection

Bandage the bite area with a clean, dry gauze or cloth. Apply an antibiotic ointment on the bite before you apply the gauze. Watch closely for any signs of infection. Things such as pus, redness, excessive swelling, and even fever are signs that can indicate an infection. If an infection occurs, go to the doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

4  Go to the doctor

Whether you or your child develops an infection or not, it is important to be seen by a doctor. You or your child may need antibiotics or a tetanus shot (depending on how long ago you had your last ones). Some larger bites may even require stitches to keep the wound closed. Additionally, bites on the face and/or hands should always be treated by a doctor to prevent scarring and loss of function.

5  Find out if the dog has rabies

If you know the dog and its owner, it is usually fairly easy to find out if the dog has been vaccinated. All you need to see are the dog’s proof of rabies vaccination. Sometimes, however, you do not know the dog, and cannot even locate it after it has bitten you or one of your children. In this case, medical attention is necessary, as you may have been infected with rabies

It is not always possible to prevent a dog bite, but treatment can be taken care of quickly and simply if you follow these five steps to treating yourself and your children after a dog bite.


[author image=”″ ]Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing about business and finance and spending time with her dog, Max. Information credited to[/author]