Should I Seek Medical Care for a Dog Bite?

Getting bitten by an animal can happen to anybody. Whether it’s the family dog that bites you or a wild animal doing so out of protection, bites hurt and they can certainly be a reason for concern. Should all bites be medically treated, though?

Our AFC Urgent Care Athens, TN team answers that question and provides further helpful information below, so keep reading!

How Necessary Is Medical Care For a Dog Bite?

In general, most experts recommend seeking medical care within 24 hours after you’ve been bitten—especially if the bite has broken the skin. Dog bites can cause medical problems that aren’t immediately obvious, such as rabies.

Dog bites are classified by severity, and it’s necessary to seek medical care if your bite is at level four or above.

Types of Dog Bites

  • Level 1: The dog’s teeth don’t touch the skin.
  • Level 2: The dog’s teeth touch, but do not break, the skin.
  • Level 3: There are one to four shallow puncture wounds in the skin.
  • Level 4: One to four punctures from a single bite. At least one puncture wound is deep.
  • Level 5: Multiple bites, including some deep puncture wounds. This level most typically results from a dog attack.

How Can I Treat My Dog Bite at Home?

Once you’ve been bitten, it’s important to assess the severity of your wound first. If it’s a level three or below, you can probably safely manage the wound at home.

You can care for your wound by first stopping the bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cloth for approximately five minutes or until the bleeding stops. Then, wash the affected area with soap and water and rinse liberally. This will decrease the odds of a dog bite infection. Lastly, put a dry, clean bandage over the wound.

When to See a Doctor For a Dog Bite

  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes of pressure
  • If the bite has broken the skin. A tetanus shot may be necessary to reduce the possibility of tetanus infection.
  • If you were bitten by a wild or stray dog or you are unable to obtain the animal’s immunization records from the owner
  • If you have a weakened immune system, either due to an illness (such as diabetes) or medical treatment (such as chemotherapy)
  • If you notice any signs of infection, including redness, swelling, warmth or pus

Don’t hesitate to visit our AFC Urgent Care Athens, TN team today for excellent care for all your general medical needs!