What to Do After a Dog Bite: A Helpful Guide

Over 4.5 million people in The United States suffer from a dog bite injury each year. Although no one wants it to happen to them, it can be sudden and scary.

After it happens, you may not know what to do and feel confused about the next steps you need to take.

Even if you’re a dog lover, you never want to deal with this situation alone. Knowing what to do in case it happens to you is a smart move.

Read on to learn what to do after a dog bite.

Superficial Wound

If the dog bite did not break the skin, it’s a superficial wound. This type of dog bite injury is common with puppies who are teething or with dogs that are play fighting with you.

Try to remain calm. This type of nip or scratch is often accidental. It was probably not a personal attack and will not likely happen again in the future.

Treat your superficial dog bite injury with these four simple steps: wash the wound, apply antibiotic cream, bandage, and watch for signs of infection.

You may have an infection if the wound begins to swell, has increased redness, becomes more painful, or if you get a fever. If this happens, call your medical professional immediately.

Puncture Wound

If the dog bite breaks the skin, it’s a puncture wound. If you experience a puncture wound on the neck or head, call 911 immediately.

If you are bitten anywhere else on your body and the bleeding is not extensive, allow the flow of blood to continue for about five minutes. This will act as a natural way to clean the wound.

Afterward, add direct pressure to the wound. Do not use hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or rubbing alcohol for puncture wounds as it may slow the healing process. If the wound continues to bleed a lot, call emergency services.

You may want to take legal action in this situation as well, especially if the injury is serious. Consider visiting to get more information about what that would entail.


The number one concern from a puncture wound is infection. You should always see your doctor within eight hours of a dog bite injury to assess potential problems.

If you are bitten by an unvaccinated or feral dog, you may be exposed to diseases such as:

  1. Rabies
  2. Streptococcus
  3. Pasteurella
  4. Staphylococcus
  5. Capnocytophaga

If you know the dog that bit you and have access to its vaccination records, bring a copy of them with you to the doctor to ensure the dog is up to date on its shots. It can help them know what to do for a dog bite.

At the time of the dog bite, be sure to exchange names and contact numbers with the owner if the dog is not yours so you can get all the medical information you need.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

There is no doubt that getting bitten by a dog is scary. Curb your worries by knowing what to do after a dog bite.

Remember each dog bite is unique. Always consult your medical care professional on a case by case basis.

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