After a dog bite, you need to take steps to stop bleeding and prevent infection. The best way to care for a dog bite injury is to see a medical professional and follow their advice. In the meantime, however, you can take steps to care for your wound:
Wash the Wound
Dog bites carry an enormous risk of infection, so you will want to wash the wound and eliminate bacteria as soon as possible. Use mild soap to wash your wound and rinse it under warm tap water for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as this could irritate the skin and make the wound worse.
Slow the Bleeding
Once your wound is rinsed, use a clean cloth to apply pressure and slow the bleeding. If you cannot get the bleeding to stop, call 911.
Apply Antibiotic Cream and Wrap the Wound
If you have Neosporin® or another over-the-counter antibiotic cream, carefully apply it to your wound. Then, wrap the wound in a sterile bandage to keep it clean until you can visit your doctor.
See a Medical Professional
When you go to the doctor, your provider will usually clean the wound again and apply professional-grade antibiotic ointment. They may also prescribe you antibiotic medications to help minimize the risk of infection.
Your doctor will also ask about the dog that bit you and may recommend a tetanus shot. If the dog that bit you was feral or unvaccinated, your doctor will probably recommend a rabies shot, as well.
Change Your Bandage Several Times a Day
Once you leave the doctor, keeping your wound clean is your responsibility. Change your bandage frequently and follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. You may need to wash your wound with mild soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment in between bandage changes.
Watch for Signs of Infection
Keep an eye on your wound and know the signs of infection. Call your doctor immediately if you notice:
- Redness, swelling, or pain at the bite wound
- Pus or fluid oozing from the wound
- Blisters or red streaks around the bite wound
- Tenderness or loss of sensation in areas near the bite
- Limited use of your hand or fingers (if the bite is on your hand)
- Headache, confusion, or fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fever or chills
- Night sweats
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle or joint pain
Signs of infection typically appear within 3 to 5 days but can appear in as little as 1 day or as many as 14 days. Infections move quickly, and some infections can lead to death within 24 to 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, so if you notice that something is wrong, do not hesitate to call your doctor.
What If I Can’t Afford to See a Doctor?
Go to the emergency room. Hospitals cannot refuse to treat you, and due to the risk of infection, you need treatment even if you feel fine.
Although you may be left with a hospital bill, it is much better than dying from a preventable infection. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills – along with missed wages, pain and suffering, and other damages – if someone else’s dog bit you.
In New Hampshire, dog owners are strictly liable for any damages their animals cause, so you should not end up paying your hospital bill, after all – as long as you hold the owner accountable with a personal injury lawsuit.
Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. would be proud to help you with your case. We have been handling dog bite lawsuits since 1997 and have more than 100 years of combined experience in cases like yours.
We offer aggressive representation and personalized service, and when you choose us, you are our priority.
Don’t suffer the consequences of a dog owner’s carelessness alone. Instead, call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online to learn more about your rights and legal options.