Dog Bite – Preventing Infections and Treating Injuries

Nobody anticipates accidents like dog bites. However, if, for some reason, a dog’s bite pierces through your skin, have it at the back of your mind that bacteria from the animal’s mouth may get into the body, which will result in infection.


Thoroughly washing the wound is one of the best ways to get rid of bacteria from the body, and also help with preventing infection. Because bacteria can quickly get into the body from a dog bite, if they stay in the body for too long, they can result in contamination such as rabies, tetanus, or sepsis.

It is possible for the disease to spread to other parts of the victim’s body. To get rid of these types of infections, a victim will need vaccinations are antibiotics.

How to tell if a dog bite is infected

There are different ways to know if a dog bite is infected; however, one of the easiest ways is through the symptoms.

The symptoms of a dog bite infection may include:

  • Severe pains that last longer than a day swelling and redness around the wounded area
  • Drainage from the wound
  • A warm feeling around the wound
  • Difficulty moving the affected area of the body

As mentioned above, an infection can spread to other parts of the body. But how do you know if an infection has indeed spread to other body parts? Below are some of the signs.

Signs that the dog bite infection may have spread to other body parts include:

  • Shaking
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

How to manage dog bites and prevent infections

While it is reasonable to be worried when you have a dog bite, it is possible to prevent disease. The first step to preventing infection is to wash the acquired wound as soon as possible.

If the wound from the dog bite is minor, it can be treated by:

  • Washing the Wounded area with soap and clean, warm water
  • Making sure that the domain is thoroughly clean
  • Running the Wounded region under lukewarm water to flush out any bacteria
  • Applying antibiotic cream to the injury and wrapping it with a clean bandage.

For deep wounds, it is vital to treat them more seriously. Here are some steps that can be taken in cases of deep dog bites:

  • Control bleeding by pressing a clean, dry cloth firmly against the wounded area
  • Immediately seeking medical attention
  • Dialing the emergency number to get help if you are unable to control the bleeding or if the person begins to feel lightheaded or faint

Treatment for dog bites

It is possible to use some treatments at home to prevent dog bites from getting infected. Making sure to clean minor wounds instantly is usually sufficient. Nevertheless, it is advised that people see a doctor in cases of more serious injuries from dog bites.

Your doctor may have to use a syringe for applying water and thoroughly cleaning the wound with a cleaning solution. This action will help to flush out any bacteria in the injury.

The next thing the doctor may then do will be to prescribe some antibiotics to help fight off bacteria that may have entered the body through the injury, and also to prevent infection.

Also, a doctor will need to examine the wound to search for any possible damage to the structure in the body, such as bones or nerves.

If the victim of the dog bite has not had a tetanus vaccination in the last half-decade, they may need to be given one immediately to reduce the risk of getting tetanus from the dog bite.

According to information made available by the American Academy of Pediatrics, individuals who have a dirty wound must get a booster tetanus vaccine if they haven’t had one for more than five years.

For those with a clean injury, they should also be given a booster vaccine if it has been exactly a decade or more since they had their last shot.

In situations of facial or severe wounds from dog bites, people may require stitches to close up the injured area. If the victim of the dog bites does not know the animal’s history of rabies vaccination, such a person will need a post-exposure rabies vaccine for them to be protected from the possibility of rabies.

Dog bite complications

When it comes to dog, bites, wounds on the feet or hands often carry a higher risk of infection. Some infections from dog bites may be severe and Trigger complications. Without immediate treatment, such diseases can be fatal.


If a dog bite leads to capnocytophaga, the victim may have the symptoms below:

  • Fever
  • Oozing from the wound
  • Joint pain
  • Blistering around the wound
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Redness, swelling, and pain around the injury

The symptoms can show up between one day and two weeks after a person suffers a dog bite. Below are the factors that may increase a person’s risk of getting an infection:

  • Not having a spleen
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Taking medications that may damage the cells such as chemotherapy
  • The presence of medical conditions that affect the immune system

Without any treatment, the symptoms of capnocytophaga may include:

  • Gangrene
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack

For treating capnocytophaga, a medical practitioner will prescribe antibiotics.


Animal bites that are left untreated can sometimes develop into sepsis. For those who do not know what sepsis is, it is a severe reaction to infection, and it can be life-threatening.

The signs that a sepsis infection may have developed as a result of a dog bite include;

  • Confusion
  • High or low body temperature
  • Severe pains or discomfort
  • Extreme daytime sleepiness

If an individual suspects that they have sepsis, it is essential that they immediately seek the attention of a doctor. A medical practitioner with treat sepsis with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.


Individuals can get a rabies infection if they’re bitten by a dog that has rabies. The first symptoms of a rabies infection include:

  • Weakness
  • A headache
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Itching or pricking feeling around the bitten area.

Rabies becomes fatal if the victim does not get treatment. Individuals should make sure they visit their doctor immediately; they think they been bitten by a dog with rabies.

Usually, post-exposure rabies vaccination is enough to treat the infection.


A person can get a tetanus infection from a dog bite. Below are some of the symptoms:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle spasms usually in the stomach

Tetanus is an infection that must be taken very seriously because it is indeed a severe infection. People who suffer any of the symptoms mentioned above must seek immediate medical attention.

Victims require medications such as tetanus vaccine and antibiotics.

When should you see a doctor?

Victims of dog bites must seek emergency medical attention if you notice any of the following:

  • A fever
  • A wound that feels warm
  • Uncontrollable bleeding from the wound
  • A red swollen or painful wound
  • A deep wound and if they have not had its attorneys shot within the last five years

If you suspect that you have suffered a bone or nerve damage as a result of a dog bite, make sure to seek emergency treatment. It is also essential to get emergency treatment if you think an infection from a dog bite has spread to other body parts.

Also, emergency attention should be sought if the dog that bit a victim has been acting strangely, or the victim is unsure if the dog has had a rabies vaccination.

We hope this article has been helpful. Please leave a comment below

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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