What to Do After an Animal or Dog Bite

A dog is a man's best friend, as they say, but bites from your family pet are unfortunately quite common. While the damage caused by most bites is fairly minimal, things can become more serious if the bite comes from a pet you don't know or worse, a wild animal. Raccoons and rabbits can carry rabies, so it is important to know what to do after any animal bite occurs.

The steps to take following a bite depend on the animal and the extent of the injury. Before seeking medical attention at a hospital, examine the bite yourself. How deep is it? Is it bleeding uncontrollably? You may be able to clean and disinfect the bite on your own, before getting care from a physician.

Gently wash the wound with soap and warm water, but do your best not to irritate it even further. Bleeding can be stopped by applying pressure from a towel. Before wrapping the wound with a bandage, apply antibiotic ointment and keep the injured area elevate so as to keep the swelling down.

When should I go to the doctor?

You may choose to see a doctor for even a small bite, just for the peace of mind you'll obtain as a result. There are, however, warning signs that should prompt you to seek medical attention for an animal bite. Doing so can ward off infection and prevent more serious complications like nerve damage or tetanus.

See your doctor in any of the following circumstances:

  • If the wound is extremely deep or gaping
  • Your immune system is inherently weak, such as from cancer or diabetes
  • Signs of infection occur around the wound
  • The bleeding doesn't stop after 15 minutes
  • You suspect possible nerve damage
  • Your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago

It's always better to be safe than sorry and your doctor may be able to prescribe you a stronger antibiotic for the wound. Taking care of the animal bite immediately after it occurs is imperative, no matter how minor the injuries.

If another person's animal bit you, you may also be eligible to file a claim and obtain monetary compensation for your suffering. Speak with our firm's Modesto dog bite attorney to get the legal assistance you need during this time.