People who have dog/dogs at home are at increased risk of getting bitten. Men rather than women are bitten by dogs in large number. Among various age groups, children are at high risk of getting bitten by dogs.
Facts On Dog Bite :
- Among all the animal bites, dog bites alone count for more than 90%.
- Around 8.5 million people seek emergency medical care for dog bites each year in America.
- Each year around 30,000 people undergo reconstructive surgery due to dog bite, in the USA alone.
- Dog bites involve deep injury for many people affecting blood vessels, nerves and even the bones.
- Dog bites may cause further infections like rabies and tetanus.
- Risk of getting infected can be avoided by cleansing the wound properly.
- Owing to the structure and shape of its teeth, dogs cause considerable damage to the tissues beneath the skin.
Dog bites can be identified by a small narrow hole beneath the skin. It may look as though the area of the skin is being punctured. For some people it looks like jagged wound or cut or abrasions on the skin. For minor injury of dog bites, the symptoms include pain, redness and warmth over the area. Within an hour the portion may develop swelling and in some cases fluid like pus may drain out from the punctured area. Often dogs use front teeth to get hold of the victim firmly and other teeth are used for biting. Dog targets the face (more on lips and nose) for biting children and on the hands, arms or legs for adults.
First Aid Care For Dog Bite Victims :
- Firstly the person should be brought out of panic and probably to a safe place away from the dog.
- Check the nature of wound and bleeding.
- Wash the wound immediately with soap water.
- Keep the area elevated to improve blood flow.
- Check with the dog’s owner (if readily available) whether the dog has been immunized recently.
- For minimal injury due to dog bite anti-inflammatory drugs can be given. Over the counter pain-killers are effective in managing the pain.
- Immediate medical help is to be given if the dog has torn the skin making a puncture or hole in the skin.
- For minor injury or small abrasion the person can wait and watch for other symptoms like redness, pain, or swelling on the area.
- Rabies can very well be prevented if treatment is given promptly. However if the rabies exposure is not treated fully the person may develop severe symptoms of rabies followed by death. Most of the cases of rabies would face death.
The method of treating dog bites varies according to the extent of damage caused. For most of the people intense skin damage would be there. For some cases underlying tissues are also damaged and in rare cases infection can occur. Once you are in the clinic, your doctor would first verify how far the skin and underlying tissues have been damaged. He would also provide supportive treatment to prevent impairment of body’s function. Dog bites do not disturb your skin and tissues alone but it transmits bacteria and other harmful microorganisms deep into your body. If at all infection occurs, it would be from Staph or Strep bacteria and the like.
It is very much necessary to know the current status of the dog’s immunization. In case you know nothing about its health and vaccine record, your doctor would consider giving you rabies vaccine. Dog bite’s treatment can be done often on outpatient basis or at the doctor’s office. The wound will be cleaned thoroughly using saline water. Further the nurse will give a shot of anesthesia on the site of bite so that doctor can explore the region properly.
Next your doctor would decide about closing the wound. Making sutures on the skin can cause infection. Often the wound will be dressed and left to heal on its own without covering it. But if the dog bites on your face where the skin has been pierced sutures will have to be made. Only in few cases general anesthesia is given and the patient will be taken to operation room if the underlying tissues have been severely damaged. It is not safe to keep the patient in local anesthetic for extended time. On such cases sutures will be done in the operating room. Antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor if he suspects infection and you need to complete the course of medication without discontinuing it.
Tips for Prevention :
- Very often dog bites the owner or family member and only in rare cases it bites the strangers.
- While selecting a dog, consider its temperament and whether it goes along with your family.
- Never choose an aggressive breed if you have small children and aged people at home.
- Don’t approach a dog that is not familiar to you.
- Once you enter the house give some space for the dog to observe you and don’t make any quick movements.
- Don’t run or scream if the dog is aggressive with you. Avoid having direct eye contact with the dog.
- Don’t go near unfamiliar dogs when it is sleeping or eating.
- Never allow infants or young children with the dogs even if it is familiar one.