What to do after a dog bite occurs?

aggressive dog

A dog bite can be scary, no matter your age.

Some adults are even cautious or even scared to be around dogs due to trauma from a dog bite much earlier in life.

Certainly, not all dogs bite, and there are some good boys and girls out there. But just like humans can get physically violent, dogs may become aggressive if they’re scared, hurt, or angry. People who don’t know dogs well may not recognize warning signs.

To prevent bites, dog owners should take precautions such as installing a fence, using leashes and harnesses, and participating in training and obedience courses. These measures can help protect humans and other pets from interactions with dogs that may result in bites and can teach dogs how to behave safely.

It’s just not fear either: a bite can require surgery and having significant medical bills. Depending on your community’s rules, it could also lead to legal charges, fines, and possibly having to surrender or kill a dog with a pattern of dangerous behavior.  

There are several recommended actions people should take when trying to figure out what to do after dog bite.


Look at the wound.

A nip that doesn’t break the skin should be considered harmless. Something that breaks the skin should be looked at closer. This means cleaning the wound, first with soap and water. This will initially remove any dirt or bacteria that might have been in the dog’s mouth, which can reduce any infection risk. More importantly, it gives a good idea of the extent of the damage and treatment options.

If a scratch is minor, a Band-Aid and antibiotics may be recommended after cleaning the wound. However, if the scratch is larger and continues to bleed, more extensive medical treatment may be necessary.


When to seek medical help

If a wound from a dog bite is bleeding and looks like it will require stitches, is deep enough to see muscle or bone after cleaning, continues to bleed, or limits the person’s ability to move or walk on their own, this means a trip to the family doctor, urgent care or hospital is in order, depending on your location. Or if the wound is severe, beyond standard abilities to clean, even life-threatening, call 911 for an ambulance.

When to seek legal counsel 

This may not be the first question people think of when a loved one is badly injured, but legal options of what to do after a dog bite should be considered once the damage is assessed.

Depending on the severity of the injuries, a dog bite victim may require medical costs starting with basic care and treatment. They may need plastic surgery. They also may need mental health counseling if it’s a particularly frightening attack. Costs could also include transportation to and from medical appointments. Dog bites could affect someone’s life and habits, such as not wanting to walk in certain areas.

A dog bite could also be an opportunity to penalize an owner who may have had a role in their dog’s behavior, such as deliberately allowing access for them to escape.


The law firm of Brad Johnson Injury Law is happy to provide guidance for dog bites or other animal-related injuries. Please contact us today to discuss your legal options.

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