• Mark N. Perlmutter, MS, MD

Things You Should Know About Dog Bites

There are approximately, 69 million households in the United States that have dogs as pet, according to 2021-2022 National Pet Owner Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. However, just like us, dogs can become aggressive, if not treated properly.

Dog Bites | Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the US every year.


Most Aggressive Dog Breeds

Even though some dogs look cute and friendly, they can also cause some serious damage when they become aggressive. There are also some dog breeds that are naturally aggressive and they are mentioned below:

  • Pit Bull

  • Rottweiler

  • Huskies

  • German Shepherd

  • Alaskan Malamutes

  • Doberman pinschers

  • Gull Dong

  • Bullmastiff

  • Wolf-Dog hybrids

  • Saint Bernard

  • Great Dane

  • Boxer

  • Chow Chow

  • Akita


How Severe can Dog Bites Be?

Dog bites can be categorized in 6 levels based on the amount of damage:


Level 1: aggressive but no skin contact.

Level 2: teeth make contact, but do not break the skin.

Level 3: a single bite with shallow wounds.

Level 4: a single bite with deep wounds

Level 5: multiple bites with deep wounds, crush injuries, or fractures.

Level 6: death of the victim and/or flesh consumed.


First Aid

If you or someone is bitten by a dog, here are some things you can do:

  • Wash the wound. Use mild soap, and run warm tap water over it for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Slow the bleeding with a clean cloth.

  • Call 911 or rush to the emergency room.

  • Apply anti-bacterial ointment.

  • Wrap the wound in a sterile bandage.

What Happens After a Dog Bite?

A dog bite carries infection caused by bacteria (transmitted from the dog’s teeth) that get inside the tissues of the human. The most common bacteria are Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Pasteurella, which causes infection. Swelling, pain, inflammation, and/or fever are some of the common symptoms for an infection and in such case, medical attention is necessary. Only 15% to 20% of dog bite wounds become infected. Crush injuries, puncture wounds, and hand wounds are more likely to become infected than scratches or tears.


Some victims may bleed uncontrollably or have some severe symptoms such as broken skin, has redness, large swelling, warmth, or have a weak immune system, immediate medical attention is required to reduce the risk and complications such as fatality.


Treatment for Dog Bites

Treatment with prophylactic antibiotics for 3 to 7 days is appropriate for dog bite wounds, unless the risk of infection is low or the wound is superficial. If frank cellulitis is evident, 10 to 14 days’ course of treatment is more appropriate.


Rabies and Vaccination

Rabies vaccine is given to people at high risk of rabies to protect them, if they are bitten by a dog that is infected.

According to CDC, for post-exposure protection:

  • A person who is exposed and has never been vaccinated against rabies, should get 4 doses of rabies vaccine. The person should also get another shot called Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG).

  • A person who has been previously vaccinated should get 2 doses of rabies vaccine and does not need RIG.

Learn more about Rabies


Tips to Avoid Dog Bites

  • Socialize your dog

  • Avoid dog altercation

  • Train your dog

  • Prevent food aggression

  • Learn body language

  • Respect your dog’s space

  • Keep your dog on a leash

  • Take your dog for regular veterinary checkups


Takeaway

A dog is often known as the most faithful animal and human’s best friend. However, even small and cute dogs can cause severe damage to humans. Training your dogs is very important so that you can prevent injury from dog bites.


It is important to periodically have your dogs and puppies vaccinated against rabies as it is recommended by the government and mandatory in some states. Whether the injury is just a scratch or small, it is best to get it treated immediately to avoid further complications such as infection, fever, etc.


Carolina Regional Orthopaedics Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.

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