Getting bitten by a dog is an unpleasant feeling that leaves you shaken and instills a fear of the animal for your whole life. Not only this, if you’ve been bitten by an unvaccinated dog and it is left unattended then it might lead to serious infections or rabies, and eventually result in death. 

Yes! You read it right! Dogs are the reason for the majority of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans. Specifically in India, approximately 20,000 deaths occur each year, due to low awareness of the need to take first aid and seek health care after a dog bite. 

Nevertheless, if you’re aware of how to provide immediate first aid after a dog bite, you can minimize the risk of infection and ensure proper wound healing. Here in this blog, we help you know about the essential components of a dog bite first aid kit, and also reveal some home-care tips one should do immediately after being bitten by a dog so as to avoid severe infection. Read on… 

Things to Keep in First-Aid Kit for Dog Bite

You must have a well-stocked first aid kit ready with you to effectively handle a dog bite. Your dog-bite first aid kit should comprise the following:

  • Disposable gloves to help you protect yourself from potential infections.
  • Clean towels or sterile gauze pads to apply pressure on the wound to stop bleeding
  • An antiseptic solution to cleanse the wound thoroughly.
  • An adhesive bandage or medical tape to help you secure dressings in place.
  • A sterile saline solution to flush out the debris from the wound.
  • An antibiotic ointment that can be applied to the wound to prevent infection.
  • A hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and inflammation.
  • Disposable plastic bags to help safely dispose of any of the contaminated materials.

Home Care Tips To Do Immediately After Bitten By a Dog  

Below are a few first-aid measures one must follow after being bitten by a dog – based on the type of wound. 

When the wound is minor:

1. Clean the wound: Keep the injured area elevated. Clean the bitten wound with soap and water or normal saline as soon as possible. Gently pat it dry.

2. Apply antibiotic ointment: Dog bite wounds grow infected in only 15 to 20 percent of cases, however, it is imperative to apply antibiotic ointment.

3. Do not tie a bandage or any cloth around the wound instead keep the wound open as it allows the wound to dry.

4. Watch for the signs of infection: Change your bandage every day and be watchful if the wound shows redness, swelling, increased pain, and fever. In case you notice any of the above-mentioned signs, visit a doctor, without delay.

5. Get a tetanus shot: Your doctor may recommend tetanus immunization if the wound is dirty and it has been more than five years since your last booster.

When the wound is deep or severe:

1. Press and hold the wound to stop the bleeding: Use a clean towel or cloth to apply direct pressure to the area to stop bleeding. Dog bites don't always bleed, but deep bites might bleed a lot. 

2. Clean the wound when the bleeding stops with soap water, or normal saline. Then pat to dry.

3. Apply a sterile bandage to the wound and see your doctor immediately. 

When to See a Doctor After a Dog Bite

In case of minor injury, after proper cleaning and application of first aid, consult a doctor within the first 24 hours. Considering the consequences your doctor may prescribe an anti-rabies injection to prevent complications.

However, you should immediately consult a doctor, if:

  • Bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes of pressure
  • The wound is deep
  • Bite has broken the skin and muscle, and bones, or tendons are visible
  • Swelling, redness, and pain persist
  • Wound infected with pus or fluid
  • The victim has diabetes or a weak immune system due to illness or medical treatment
  • Not taken a tetanus shot in the last five years

Depending on the severity of the bite, the doctor may advise applying antibiotic ointments to ward off the infection or prescribe and perform stitches, or even surgery. The victim will require rabies vaccines if the dog is unvaccinated or the vaccine is due. For a serious bite or a wound consult a General Surgeon Immediately.

If you have any questions related to wound care associated with dog bites or to know about its after-care like infection or surgery, you can consult an Emergency Medicine Specialist online at Ask a Doctor 24x7.

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Information provided on this page is not intended to substitute for proper medical advice provided by your healthcare professional. This is only for informational purposes. 

About the Author

Priya Singh

Priya Singh is a professional writer and editor with 13 years of experience in writing/editing health and lifestyle content for diverse verticals such as magazine, newspaper, and digital media.

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