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Video:How to Treat Dog Bites

with Rod Brouhard

Dog bites are common, but they can be treated quickly and effectively if you know what to do. Find out how to treat dog bites.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Treat Dog Bites

As much as humans interact with canines, dog bites are common, especially in children. Responding to a dog bite should always start with the safety of all involved, including the victim, the rescuer, and if possible, the dog.

Secure the Victim

Stay Safe. Secure the dog or the victim. Move one away from the other. If the dog's owner is around, instruct him or her to secure the dog. If not, move the victim to a safe location. Don't start any treatment until there is a reasonable expectation that the dog won't attack again.

Control Bleeding

If you are not the victim, practice universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if available.

Control any bleeding by following the appropriate steps. Avoid using a tourniquet unless there is severe bleeding that cannot be controlled any other way.

Clean and Dress the Wound

Once the bleeding is controlled, clean the wound with soap and warm water. Do not be afraid to clean inside the wound. Be sure to rinse all the soap away, or it will cause irritation later.

Cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing. You can put antibiotic ointment on the wound before covering.

Beware of Infection

Watch for signs of infection like redness, swelling, heat, and weeping pus. Always call a physician to determine if you should be examined. Some dog bites need antibiotics, particularly if they are deep puncture wounds. Additionally, many municipalities have regulations for reporting dog bites and monitoring the dogs, and that is often initiated by contact with a doctor.

Any unidentified dog runs the risk of carrying rabies. If the dog cannot be identified and the owner cannot show proof of rabies vaccination, the victim must seek medical attention. Rabies is always fatal to humans if not treated.

When a Dog Bite Needs Further Attention

The wound may need stitches. If the edges of a laceration are unable to touch, or if there are any convulsions, the wound will need emergency medical attention. Wounds on the face or hands should be seen by a physician because of the likelihood of scarring and loss of function.

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