Dog bites are unfortunately common occurrences that can lead to significant injury if not handled properly. This guide covers first aid, treatment, and prevention strategies for both dog-to-dog and dog-to-human bites.
What To Do If a Dog Bites Another Dog
If your dog is bitten by another dog, the first priority is separating them safely to prevent further harm. Remain calm around both dogs, as they may be frightened and defensive. If possible, exchange contact details with the other owner to find out vaccination details and possible illnesses.
Check your dog thoroughly for wounds which may not be readily visible through fur. Bites often puncture deep into tissue and can be jagged, causing additional subsurface damage. Even small looking wounds merit close inspection and urgent veterinary care to clean out bacteria from dog teeth and prevent infection.
Signs of infection include redness, heat, swelling, discharge, and inflamed tissue around the bite. Try to let an injured but ambulatory dog walk themselves to avoid stress. Carry them if unable to walk. Apply direct pressure to any bleeding with a wrapped glove for protection.
All dog bite wounds require same-day veterinary assessment for deep cleaning and antibiotic administration. Ensure follow-up vet monitoring for infection and discuss behavioural approaches to curb potential aggression.
What To Do If a Dog Bites a Human
70% of dog bites occur in the home, often inflicted by a family pet, especially when unsupervised interaction stresses the dog. When a dog bites a person, make the situation safe by separating them in case of another bite.
As with dog bites, thoroughly wash human wounds with antibacterial soap and water for at least 5 minutes to reduce infection risk from dog mouth bacteria. Stop bleeding by applying pressure directly on the wound with a wrapped glove for protection.
Seek immediate medical care for deep bites or those near eyes, joints, or major arteries. Inform authorities if the dog is unknown to get rabies vaccine verification. Follow all doctor guidance on antibiotics, wound care, and watching for signs of infection like redness, swelling, heat, and pus-like discharge.
Preventing Dog Bites
While some dogs nip instinctively, proper handling, training, and socialisation from an early age reduce biting. Key tips include:
- Slowly approach unknown dogs and let them sniff before touching.
- Avoid direct eye contact, looming over, or disturbing a dog when eating or sleeping.
- Do not interact with dogs showing fearful, tense, or aggressive body language.
- Socialise dogs to diverse people, animals, and locations. Reward non-aggressive responses.
- Train dogs to reliably respond to commands like "sit" and "stay."
- Identify and address causes of stress, fear, jealousy, or anxiety that may prompt biting.
- Spay/neuter dogs for health and behavioural benefits.
Bite prevention starts with proper training and socialisation from puppyhood to increase tolerance and inhibit biting instinct. Children should be supervised with dogs and separated if warning signs like freezing, staring, growling, or teeth baring occur. Never approach unfamiliar dogs without letting them sniff first.
While biting is an inherent dog communication method, education and early positive conditioning greatly reduce bite incidents to keep pets and people safe. With caution and quick response, dog bites can be effectively managed.