What Injuries Can Come from a Dog Bite?

Key Points:

  • Roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the United States, and about 20 percent of them become infected, according to the CDC.
  • It is important to seek medical attention, regardless of the severity of your dog bite. Even a minor wound can expose you to rabies, infection or other diseases.
  • If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries from a dog bite, a dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyer can help you seek the compensation you deserve.

When we visit the home of a friend or family member, we are not anticipating that we could suffer severe dog bite injuries. However, according to statistics from DogsBite.org and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog bites occur more often than many Georgia residents would like to think, and a majority of them happen in or around the homes of family members, friends, and neighbors. Indeed, about 1,000 Americans have to seek medical treatment in an emergency room every day because of dog bite injuries, according to DogsBite.org. And of the 4.5 million or so dog bites that happen every year in the United States, the CDC reports that about 20 percent of them become infected.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an animal attack in Atlanta or elsewhere in Georgia, contact an experienced dog bite injury attorney right away. An experienced lawyer at The Millar Law Firm can answer your questions and review what options you have for pursuing compensation for your injury.

What to Expect After a Dog Bite

It is important to take immediate first-aid steps after an animal attack in order to stop the bleeding. According to a dog bite fact sheet from WebMD, you can provide initial first aid for a dog bite at home, but it is important to seek medical attention as soon as you are able to do so. Often, dog bite injuries become infected. As such, victims should not attempt to treat serious wounds from dog bites on their own or avoid visiting the doctor. Although temporary at-home treatment can help to prevent infection in the short term, you should not skip a visit to the emergency room or to your physician’s office, depending on the severity of the injury. When you do see a doctor, WebMD suggests you should be ready to answer some of the following questions:

  • Who owns the dog that bit you?
  • Do you know if the dog is up-to- date on its vaccinations, including its rabies vaccine?
  • Did the dog bite you despite being unprovoked? Or did you provoke (even if inadvertently) the animal attack?
  • What are your medical conditions? For instance, do you suffer from diabetes, liver disease, or any other illnesses that suppress your immune system?

When to Seek Treatment for a Dog Bite

Not all dog bites result in the same level of harm or the same severity of the wound. For example, some dog bites can simply graze the skin — leading many people to believe that they can treat the wound at home. However, other wounds are more severe and may require an immediate trip to an emergency room.

In general, experts emphasize that it is important to seek medical attention, regardless of the severity of your injuries. Dog bite injuries frequently become infected, and your doctor can take steps to help prevent a serious infection.

Short-Term Injuries and Minor Wounds

Some minor wounds from dog bites may not require an immediate visit to your healthcare provider. WebMD suggests that when you are providing temporary care for a minor wound from a dog bite at home, you should be sure to:

  • Use a clean towel to compress the injury in order to stop the bleeding.
  • Keep the area with the dog bite injury elevated if possible.
  • Carefully wash the dog bite with soap and water.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment to the wound as soon as it is clean in order to help prevent an infection.
  • Wrap the dog bite injury wound with a sterile bandage.

If at any point you notice one or more of the following signs of infection after a dog bite, the CDC recommends that you seek immediate medical attention:

  • Redness around the wound
  • Increasing pain
  • Swollenness
  • Developing a fever
  • Strange behavior from the dog that bit you

Even a minor wound can expose you to rabies and other diseases, not to mention the risk of a serious infection. Your healthcare provider can treat the wound and give you medications to help prevent infection.

Long-Term Injuries and Deep Wounds

Deep wounds from dog bites can result in long-term injuries. If your dog bite wound is deep, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. The CDC recommends doing the following:

  • Apply pressure to the wound with a dry, clean cloth in order to stop the bleeding.
  • If you cannot stop the bleeding on your own or if you feel faint, call 911 to receive medical attention.
  • Visit your healthcare provider (or go to the emergency room) as soon as possible.

There are more than 60 different kinds of bacteria in dogs’ saliva, and some of these germs can make people sick, the CDC warns. As such, when a dog bites a human, the wound can become severely infected. The following are some of the serious injury and infection risks associated with dog bites:

  • Rabies: This very serious disease can be spread to humans through dog bites. The virus is “almost always fatal,” according to the CDC. Although it can be prevented by properly vaccinating animals, the most common mode of spreading this virus between animals and humans is through animal bites. If you seek immediate medical attention for a dog bite, you can receive treatment to prevent rabies.
  •  Pasteurella: This common type of bacteria is present in more than 50 percent of all dog bite wounds that become infected. It initially causes pain and redness at the site of the infection, but it can have more serious consequences for people with weakened immune systems.
  • Capnocytophaga spp.: These are bacteria that live in the mouths of animals, and certain people with weakened immune systems can become sick after they are exposed.
  • MRSA: This dangerous staph infection can result in serious long-term consequences, such as skin, lung, and urinary tract infections. It can also spread to a person’s bloodstream or lungs, resulting in infections that are life-threatening.
  • Tetanus: This serious toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium tetani often is a problem in dog bite cases involving particularly deep wounds.

Contact an Experienced Georgia Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries from a dog bite, a dedicated Georgia dog bite lawyer can help you seek the compensation you deserve. At The Millar Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping injury victims pursue dog bite damages. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.

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