Somewhere in time, a rumor got started that a dog’s mouth was cleaner than a human’s mouth. It may have started because dogs lick their wounds and may heal faster than humans. The truth is, it is just a myth. Dogs and humans both have germy mouths. When you consider what dogs regularly put into their mouths on a daily basis – well, you get the idea. With that in mind, no matter how minor, it’s important to treat a dog bite.

Millions of Americans are bitten annually. Over 2 million are children between the ages of 5 and 9. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in five bites are severe enough to require medical attention.

Assess the Situation

Most dog bites are from known canines – the family dog, a friend’s pet or the neighbor’s dog. The good news is if the dog needs to be observed, it won’t be an issue. There are times, however, when a person is bitten by a stray. That poses more of a problem unless the dog can be caught. Even though rabies is rare in the United States, thanks to vaccinations, it still happens on occasion.

Minor bites may be treated at home, however, severe bites and those from an unknown animal need to be treated by a doctor. If a bite begins showing signs of infection, such as swelling, turning red, warm to the touch or oozing pus, it is critical to see your physician. Infections caused by dog bites need to be treated with medication.

Caring for a Dog Bite at Home

Wash the area gently but thoroughly with soap and water. Dry gently with a clean towel or sterile gauze. Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the area with a sterile bandage. In order to prevent infection, you should apply the medicated ointment on a daily basis.

When to See the Doctor

If the bite is severe, you should cover it with a clean towel, elevate the area and go to the doctor. A doctor’s care may also be required if the bite victim has a medical condition that could have an impact on the healing process. Such conditions include diabetes, any condition where the immune system is impaired or liver disease. These conditions could make you more susceptible to infection.

Dog Bite Prevention

Usually, dogs don’t arbitrarily bite people. In most bite situations they are provoked in some way. Some breeds are more aggressive or temperamental than others. Selecting the dog with the right temperament for your family is important. Kids need to be supervised around dogs, especially unfamiliar dogs. Teach your kids not to interfere with a dog when it is eating or has puppies.

It’s a good idea to stay away from a dog you don’t know. If it should become aggressive, don’t scream and run away, it will only chase you. Move slowly away, stay calm and don’t make eye contact with it.

Dog owners have the responsibility to keep their pets on leashes when in public, and they need to do their part to ensure the dog does harm to no one. Severe injury from a dog bite can mar a person for life, especially a child. At Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., we specialize in personal injury law. With offices in Englewood, North Port, and Port Charlotte, southwestern Florida residents can trust us to provide excellent legal service for their personal injury case. Contact us for information on how you can get a free consultation.