Most of us are aware of what to do when you get a cut or if you faint. But not many know about the first-aid measures to follow if bitten by a dog. There are numerous cases of rabies, a condition caused due to an animal bite (dogs being most common), all around the world. According to a 2018 study published in the journal PLoS One, India contributes to more than 36% of global deaths caused due to rabies every year.
Dog Bite First-Aid: What To Do If Bitten By A Dog
The first and foremost thing to do when attacked by a dog is to protect yourself. You can put your bag, jacket or purse to prevent the dog from biting you. If you are knocked down, then curl into a ball and place your hands on the neck and ears and tuck your head in. Do consult a doctor immediately to know how severe the wounds are and get proper treatment at the earliest. If you have a dog at home, do ensure to get it vaccinated to prevent complications caused due to a dog bite.
The Centre For Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommends few first-aid measures to follow after bitten by a dog based on the types of wounds.
If you have minor wounds such as scratches or bruises due to a dog bite then:
-Wash the wounds with clean water and soap to clear the area off the blood and saliva.
-Apply an antiseptic/antibacterial cream or lotion to lower the risk of bacterial infection due to open wounds
-Do not tie a piece of cloth around the wound but keep the wound open as it allows the wound to dry.
-Consult a doctor immediately (preferably within the first 24 hours after bitten by a dog) and get an anti-rabies injection to prevent complications.
If you have deep wounds such as if it is bleeding or flesh is exposed then:
– Apply pressure onto the wound with the help of clean and dry cloth to stop bleeding
-Wash the wound with clean water and soap, if there is no bleeding
-If you feel weak or if you feel like fainting, then do get medical help immediately
-If the bleeding fails to stop or if you experience redness and swelling in the affected area, then do visit a hospital.
Dog Bite: How Is It Treated?
Your doctor will decide the mode of treatment based on the severity of the wound and the bite. In most cases, your doctor might recommend an injection or a vaccine for a dog bite. Dr Pradip Shah, Consultant Physician, Fortis Hospital says that for minor scratches, vaccination is the most effective mode of dog bite treatment. However, if the bite is deep, then you might have to get an injection, which is an anti-rabies immunoglobulin.
If the bite is due to a pet dog, you might have to take three injections as there are high chances that the dog might be vaccinated. The first injection should be taken on the day of a dog bite, the second one after three days and the third after seven days of the dog bite. If the dog bite is due to a stray dog, then you may have to take at least five to seven injections with the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh dose of the injections after an interval of a week each between two consequent doses, or as advised by your doctor. In mild cases or scratches, three doses of injection might be advised. In most cases, doctors avoid stitching the wound unless it is on the face or if the wound has affected any vital organ.
Remember that your doctor’s decision will be final when it comes to treatment of dog bite as it will be based on your condition and the severity of the bog bite. It is wise to avoid applying home remedies or any lotion for the wounds to heal without consulting your doctor.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
1. Tiwari HK, Vanak AT, O’Dea M, Robertson ID. Knowledge, attitudes and practices towards dog-bite related rabies in para-medical staff at rural primary health centres in Baramati, western India. PLoS One. 2018 Nov 16;13(11):e0207025.
2. Preventing Dog Bites. Injury, Violence and Safety. Centre For Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).