Animal bites, especially ones caused by dogs is common in humans. There are many causes which trigger dogs and other animals to bite humans, such as territory, unfamiliarity, and aggressiveness. Minor dog bite wounds might be able to treat using home remedies, but more severe wounds might need specific wound care and attention. Since animal saliva, including dogs contain millions of bacteria, hygiene is one of the most important things in caring for bite wounds.
Wounds caused by dog bites
Children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, and head, arms, and legs are the common areas bitten by the animal. Arms and legs are also the common wound site from a dog bite in adults. Wounds caused by a dog bite might be either minor or severe. Based on its types, some wounds caused by a dog bite are:
Scratches may occur as a result of dog teeth streaking on the skin. These scratches are usually minor and do not cause severe bleeding. Hence, it is mostly treated at home and heals without specified medical care.
- Deep open cuts
Cuts are also common result of a dog bite, and in most cases, cuts caused by a dog bite are deep and may bleed. Severe cut wound caused by a dog bite might result jagged skin edges which require medical sutures.
- Puncture wounds
This type of wound is the most common result of animal bite. Puncture wounds are caused by teeth penetration on the skin and usually deep. In severe cases, resulted puncture wound might damage not only the epidermis, but also the dermis and its inner tissues. Since puncture wound is not as easy to observe as cuts and scratches, it needs a lot of attention.
Dog puncture wound care in humans
Drainage in puncture wounds are commonly limited. This kind of wound also tends to trap bacteria and virus, so that thorough observation and wound care are required. If you are bitten by a dog, which causes a puncture wound, consider some methods in performing a proper wound care, such as:
- All wounds caused by human and animal bites need to be treated within 8 hours after injury. This is crucial, as immediate treatment minimizes the possibility of infection. Hence, if your puncture wound is severe and a bone or tendon is broken, you might need to go to the ER immediately. Otherwise, you can do the treatment at home.
- Clean the wound immediately. Irrigate puncture wounds with clean water and gentle soap soon after the bite. Saline solution is also recommended for irrigating dog puncture wound, as this is a natural anti-bacterial.
- Remove any debris and dirt which might be left on the wound site.
- Encourage bleeding. If the wound is not bleeding, squeeze it gently to trigger bleeding. This is a natural way of preventing bacteria from entering the wound site.
- In severe cases, dog puncture wounds might need a copious salvage—cleaning the wound by injecting fluids into the wound as a cleansing agent. This should be done in the ER.
- Dog puncture wounds are prone to tetanus, and if the animal is infected with rabies, the wound might be a transferring agent to human body. Hence, an observation is needed with every dog bite wound. Tetanus and rabies shots will be given after observing the possibility.
- Apply antibiotic ointment and bandage the wound using cotton gauze or pads to give it a moist environment. Change the bandage regularly and keep the wound clean every time.
- Take prescribed antibiotics in case your wounds are severe. This will be helpful for preventing bacterial infection which may come with a dog puncture wound. Antibiotics are usually given within the first 3 days after injuries.
- Since wounds caused by animal bites are prone to infection, those are not usually sutured within 72 hours after injury. If it is not exposed to any bacterial or viral infection, major puncture wound—which is previously dressed can be sutured. This is important to prevent transferred bacteria from saliva from being trapped inside the wound site, which triggers infection and inner tissues damage.