What are the Different Types of Dog Bite Infection?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2019
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There are over 60 varieties of dog bite infection, some more serious than others. The most common of these are pasteurellosis infection, streptococcal infection, staphylococcal infection, and capnocytophaga infection. While these infections are all bacterial, the viral infection known as rabies can be transmitted to a human via a dog bite.

Pasteurellosis infection is caused by the pasteurellosis bacteria that naturally occur in a dog’s mouth. It is the most common infection occurring in dog bite victims and can become serious if not treated immediately. Symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of the attack and can include severe pain in the area of the wound, swelling, and redness. This infection spreads rapidly and can cause permanent damage, especially if the bite is located near any muscles or tendons, particularly on the hand. Immediate medical treatment and antibiotics are needed.

Streptococcal infection, the bacteria that commonly causes strep throat in humans, can also be brought on by a dog bite. The symptoms of this dog bite infection include pain, swelling, and redness and are usually present within 24 hours. It is typically treated with penicillin or other antibiotics; it can cause septicemia, an infection of the blood, if left untreated.


Staphylococcal infection, also known as a staph infection, can cause several skin issues and health problems if left untreated. While this infection is not as common as pasteurellosis infection, it occurs in nearly 20% of all dog bite victims. Symptoms include swelling, redness, and pain on and around the site of the bite and can cause permanent damage to the skin and tissue if left untreated.

Capnocytophaga infection is one of the most dangerous types of dog bite infection, although it is typically rare. It can cause small red splotches to appear on the skin, as well as nausea, headaches, and muscle ache. This bacterial infection almost always infects the blood; it can be fatal for those without a spleen and those who have other immune deficiencies. It can also spread to the heart and infect the valves. This type of infection is fatal in 33% of dog bite victims.

Rabies is a deadly viral infection that attacks the central nervous system. This condition is only treatable before the infection actually takes hold. If bitten by a rabid dog, prompt medical attention is necessary. An initial shot is usually given to stop the infection from developing and another six injections are administered over 28 days to ensure the virus leaves the body. If left untreated, symptoms include paralysis, hallucinations, coma, seizures, and heart failure.

A dog bite should always be cleaned and disinfected immediately; it should be treated by a doctor if rabies is a concern or other unusual symptoms occur. In the case of small children, those over 50 years of age, or those with immune deficiencies, bites should always be checked out by a doctor as quickly as possible. Proper care and medical attention can help to ensure that a dog bite infection does not spread and cause other medical issues.


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Post 4

@browncoat - Dog bite treatment is going to be pretty intensive for big injuries though. I think infection is probably much more likely when someone is bitten and doesn't get help for it because it was their own dog, or they didn't think it was worth complaining about.

The problem is that dogs can have very unclean mouths, particularly if they are semi-wild and more inclined to bite and bacteria can be pushed quite deep into the wound by the teeth, even if it doesn't seem like much of an injury.

It's the same as standing on a rusty nail. It doesn't really look like much, but you should go and get it treated just the same. Better safe than sorry.

Post 3

@bythewell - This isn't as much of a problem with dogs as it is with smaller animals like squirrels and rats, because it's highly likely they'll be able to find and identify the dog even if it runs away. Much less likely they'll be able to do that with a smaller animal, which means it's much more important to try and grab it when you can.

There have actually been some terrifying stories about dog attacks in the last few years. In some cases I think infection is the least of the victim's troubles.

Post 2

If at all possible without getting further injury, you should try to get hold of the dog so that it can be checked by a vet. This is particularly true if you suspect rabies. Even if the dog has been killed, you should keep the body until someone can run the right tests.

A dog bite isn't pleasant at the best of times, but it will be a hundred times worse if you have to go through the treatment for rabies when it's not necessary. It's extremely painful and takes a long time, plus it isn't even 100% guaranteed to prevent the disease.

With that being said, if there is any suspicion at all that you might have contracted rabies then absolutely go with the treatment. It's painful, but you will live through it. The same cannot be said for rabies.

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