Dogs are often called man’s best friend and are thought of as members of the family.  However, if a dog bites – for whatever reason – it is important to have the wound treated by a medical professional.

When to see a doctor after a bite

Some dogs bite while playing, these are gentle tugs that do not break the skin.  Other dogs bite when startled, when protecting a toy or food, or when they are attacking.  Children are more likely to be bitten than adults, and these bites can cause serious injury. It is important to see a doctor when:

  • You do not know the dog or the owner
  • If the bite is deep and bleeding
  • If the bite becomes red, swollen, hot, or filled with pus
  • If the dog lives on a farm, in a rural area, or is not vaccinated or up to date on shots
  • A young child is bitten, especially if the bite is on the face, which can cause permanent scarring

No one wants to be bitten.  Puppy and dog “nips” are not uncommon and are typically minor. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every five dog bites requires medical attention.  However, some people are at greater risk when a bite punctures the skin.  If you have diabetes, liver disease, or are immunosuppressed and are bitten and bleeding, contact your health care provider.

Who bites and who gets bitten?

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) states that the average age of a child who gets bitten is 5.9 years and, in 95 percent of dog bite cases, the dog is known to the victim. While any dog can bite, a 2019 study by the American Animal Hospital Association found that pit bulls had the most reported bite cases, followed by mixed breeds, German shepherds, terriers, and rottweilers.

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