Dog Bite Treatment
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- How many dog bites occur?
- Who is at risk for a dog bite?
- What should I do if someone is bitten by a dog?
- When should I call the doctor for a dog bite?
- What is the treatment for a dog bite?
- How can dog bites be prevented?
- Safety tips to prevent dog bites
- Dog Bites At A Glance
- Patient Comments: Dog Bite Treatment - Type of Experience
- Find a local Doctor in your town
How many dog bites occur?
Almost 75 million dogs live in the United States, and since many victims of dog bites don't seek medical care or report the attack, it may be that the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s estimate of 4.5 million dog bites each year in the U.S. may be too low. Approximately 880,000 dog bite victims seek emergency medical care at hospitals in the U.S. every year.
Dogs have rounded teeth, and it is the pressure exerted by their jaws that can cause significant damage to the tissues under the skin, including bones, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.
More than 30,000 victims of dog bites undergo reconstructive surgery each year, and 15-20 people die of dog bites yearly.
Who is at risk for a dog bite?
The risk of being bitten by a dog increases if thee is a dog in the home; the more dogs there are, the greater the risk. Men are more frequent victims than women (who are bitten by cats more often).
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are more likely to be bitten by a dog than other age groups. Children are also more likely to present for medical attention.
What should I do if someone is bitten by a dog?
The dog bite victim needs to be taken to a safe place away from the assailant dog to prevent further attack and injury. Since dog bites can cause significant damage beneath the skin, a type of injury that cannot always easily be appreciated, medical care should be accessed by a health care practitioner.
Wounds should be kept elevated and, if possible, washing the wound with tap water may be attempted.
Information should be obtained from the dog's owner about the dogs rabies immunization status, but if this is not possible, hospital, animal control centers, or law enforcement personnel will help gather any required information.
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