What are the Different Types of Dog Bite Treatment?

Patti Kate

There are various first aid methods for treating a dog bite, although the initial treatment typically involves antisepsis of the wound site to minimize risk of infection. Antibiotic treatment may be required, especially for a very young child, elderly person, or someone with a suppressed immune system. If necessary, the dog bite treatment may also include a rabies vaccination.

Dog bites may require hospital care.
Dog bites may require hospital care.

When a young child has been bitten by a dog, it may be necessary to reassure and calm the child in order to restrain him, so immediate treatment may be initiated. Applying moderate and steady pressure to the bite wound will generally help control bleeding. This can be done with any type of sterile or clean cloth.

Topical antibiotic creams may be used to treat minor injuries received from a dog bite.
Topical antibiotic creams may be used to treat minor injuries received from a dog bite.

Once bleeding has stopped, the essential part of any dog bite treatment will include disinfecting the wound. This can be done by washing the area thoroughly with warm soap and water. It is also important to flush out any pieces of debris or dirt that may be adhered to the skin. An antiseptic wash or peroxide may help to minimize and kill germs on the surface of the wound. If bleeding cannot be controlled, emergency medical treatment may be necessary.

As a preventive measure, especially with a child, a visit to the doctor is often the best course of action. As part of dog bite treatment, a tetanus booster shot may be needed. If there is any question about whether the dog did not have up to date rabies immunization, rabies treatment may be necessary for the victim to reduce rabies risk.

An individual with certain medical conditions, such as an autoimmune deficiency, diabetes, or heart valve abnormalities may be at risk for infection from a dog bite. Under these conditions, the patient is generally advised to undergo a course of antibiotic therapy. This is a precautionary measure and generally optional, although most young children or elderly will typically be prescribed antibiotics as part of the dog bite treatment.

Whether the dog bite wound must closed with sutures will generally depend on the circumstance. In most cases, physicians believe wounds will heal faster if left unclosed. There are exceptions, however, such as a bite that has occurred on the facial area. After the wound has healed, there may be some scarring involved. Over-the-counter or prescribed topical creams may help to minimize the scar. Sometimes, laser surgery for scars may be part of treatment options as well.

In severe cases where disfigurement has occurred, reconstructive or plastic surgery may be necessary. This is a final step in the process of dog bite treatment. If a physician believes the patient would benefit from some type of reconstructive surgery, he may recommend a specialist who is qualified to perform such an operation. This may be necessary to restore full function to a particular body part, or simply to help decrease the severity of scarring, especially on the face.

An individual with diabetes may be at risk for an infection from a dog bite.
An individual with diabetes may be at risk for an infection from a dog bite.

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Discussion Comments


When you get bit by a dog, one of the most important things to take into consideration is whether the dog is rabid or not. If it's a dog that's owned by someone, the chances are very low. However, if it's a stray dog, there's much more of a risk. However, the problem with this is that unless the wild dog is foaming at the mouth, it's very hard to tell whether it was rabid or not. Due to this always being an uncertainty, rabies shots should always be required.

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