If you find your dog was bitten by another dog then you need to act fast. Assessing the injury, the situation, and providing the appropriate medical care is crucial. Especially if the wound is severe as it could be life-threatening. You will need to do what you can and contact an emergency vet appointment.
We will teach you the basics of helping a dog with a dog bite injury so that you can be prepared for this situation. Hopefully you will never need to be. However, by knowing what to do you can prevent bleeding and get your pet to the vets as soon as possible. This helps to ensure the most positive outcome for your dog and their health.
Assess The Extent of The Injury
Once you have identified a wound, look for the severity and size. If the wound has just scratched the skin slightly, you may be able to disinfect and treat it at home. However, with tears, punctures, and generally large or deep wounds, take your dog to the vet.
You also need to evaluate the bleeding. Is the bleeding a lot, and can it be stopped with pressure after some time? In which case you can relay this information to the vet and let them find the right appointment for you. However, if the bleeding is heavy and cannot be stopped, try to slow it down as much as possible and take them to an emergency vet appointment.
Look Out For Emergency Signs!
Even if the wound seems minimal, your dog could be suffering from shock or other worrying things. This is why you need to assess their behavior for worrying signs, and you should relay all of these to your vet. This helps you and them to gauge how severe your dog’s wound is and whether their life is at risk. Some of the symptoms you need to look for include:
- Panting or difficulty breathing
- They cannot or won’t get up
- The wound is continuously bleeding
- They seem lethargic
- Your dog may appear unresponsive
One or more of these signs could indicate that your dog is going into shock, has severe blood loss, or just generally is in a worrying condition. Any of these signs indicate that you need to book an appointment with an emergency vet for as soon as possible. Without aid, the consequences can be dire. These signs cannot go unchecked for days or even hours. Try contacting your main veterinary practice and ask them for recommendations if they are unable to provide immediate care. Be sure to relay all the concerning symptoms to your vet so they can prepare the surgery for immediate care of your dog.
How Can You Provide First Aid To Your Dog
If the wound is not severe, or if you need to provide first aid before reaching the vets, we can help summarize each step. You may be reading this to make sure you are prepared, or as a reminder. Sometimes in these scary situations we can forget key details because it is so emotionally overwhelming. Just do your best to stay calm, take deep breaths, and follow the instructions below.
Try To Stop The Bleeding First
Blood loss is one of the biggest worries about a dog bite and should be your first thought. You need to focus on stopping the bleeding before anything else. In order to do so, you will want to apply pressure to the site with a cloth or some type of material. Try to ensure the material is clean to try to prevent bacteria from entering the wound. Also, try to use thick material to apply pressure to the wound as it is often more effective. However, if you don’t have any thick material, or ideally gauze, any material will do. If blood soaks through the material, continue to press it to the wound and do not move it.
Hold the material to the wound until you can stop the bleeding, or until your dog is at the vets and they can take over. Even if you can only minimize the bleeding, it will still help your dog and their health.
Keep The Injured Area Out Of Reach
Your dog may try to clean, gnaw, or generally interact with their injury. This can actually make things a lot worse. For starters, they can lick bacteria into the wound and this can lead to an infection. But also during cleaning, they may try to gnaw at the wound site in an attempt to stop the pain or remove sensations in stress. This can lead to further tears and aggravated pain.
What’s more is that when a dog has an injury they should remain still until it is properly taken care of. Any movements could lead to it being further torn open, excess bleeding, and other concerning elements. Try to keep your dog lying down and calm to prevent them from leaning or interacting with their wound. Some dogs may not want touch when they are injured so be careful to prevent yourself from being bitten too.
Wash The Wound With Clean Water
Use room temperature water to clean the wound out and remove any debris. It is likely that after your dog has been bitten that their wound could have hit or rubbed the ground. When this occurs, they may get soil, rocks, and other things in and around their wound. Not only can this lead to a possible infection, but it can also cause further pain to your dog. Get a cup of water and gently pour this on your dog’s wound. Make sure not to pour it all in one go, but pour enough that the water has forced out anything that should not be in the wound. This can help your dog to feel more comfortable as well as ensure the wound is as clean as possible.
Wrap It With A Sterile Bandage
Grab a sterile bandage from your dog’s first aid kit as a final step. You will want to gently wrap the bandage, or gauze, fully around the wound. Make sure it is not too loose that your dog could slip it off or it could fall off. However, ensure that it is not too tight that it could cause pain or cut off circulation. Use medical tape to attach the bandage end to the main covering. Be sure to be careful that your dog’s fur is not trapped at all. Trim any excess fur you need to, but be careful of the wound. If you have any worries, be sure to visit your vet. They are a professional and can wrap a wound perfectly.
How Can You Prevent Infection In The Wound?
An infection may occur if your dog interacts with the wound, if it is left open, or it is not properly cleaned before being bandaged or wrapped. Therefore, to avoid an infection, make sure to clean the wound properly and bandage it appropriately. If your dog appears to be trying to reach their wound, whether to directly interact with it or to pull at the bandaging, you will need to prevent this. Them gnawing or licking the wound can introduce harmful bacteria which can lead to an infection. Furthermore, it can also lead to the injury bleeding again and reopening. To prevent this you can either try to keep an eye on them during the day and stop them if they try. Or you can consider purchasing a cone, also known as an Elizabethan collar, to guarantee your dog cannot reach their wound.
If you decide the wound is not severe and you can clean and treat it yourself, be sure that the wound is completely clear of debris before covering it. Use room temperature water and pour it over the wound until it is rinsed out. This can help to prevent infection.
How to Treat a Dog Bite?
Once you have taken your dog to the vet, they will then identify the correct treatment. Firstly they will ensure that your dog has stopped bleeding. If they have not stopped bleeding then your vet will take them for surgery under anesthetic to cauterize any area of bleeding first. If the bleeding is no longer an issue or was never an issue, the vet will ensure there is no debris in the bite and that the injury is completely clean. They will use an antiseptic to achieve this. Depending on the depth and sensitivity of the wound, your vet may decide to place your dog under anesthetic to operate more carefully and sew up the wound. If the injury is not severe, your vet may not need to sew the wound shut and instead they can bandage the wound appropriately.
Once the wound is appropriately cleaned, sealed, and covered, your vet will move on to prescriptions. In severe cases your vet may want to conduct a bacterial test to find the correct antibiotics to prescribe to prevent infection and help healing. Your vet may also give your dog anti-inflammatories and pain killers. But it really depends on your dog and their injury.
What Kind Of After Care Does My Dog Need?
Dog bite wounds can be very traumatic for your dog, both mentally and physically. Therefore it is crucial to provide your dog with all the care and monitoring after their treatment. Firstly you will want to make sure that your dog cannot reach their wound and a muzzle or cone can be a great tool to do so. You also need to ensure your dog is eating and drinking regularly. Although, after surgery your dog may be reluctant to eat for a while, so don’t be concerned. Give them space and be sure not to make them do too much exercise, especially if it is severe.
Be patient and quiet with your dog as well, as stress and anxiety may interrupt the healing process and cause it to take longer. Give your dog cuddles and love if they want it and they will get better in no time.
My Dog Was Bitten By Another Dog – FAQs
This may be due to an infection or because of blood flowing to the area, it depends on how soon after the injury this appears. Immediately after a dog bite, the area is likely to swell and redden, especially while it is bleeding. This will lessen over time and as it heals. However, if you notice this swelling a few days after the bite, this can be a sign of an infection and you will need to take your dog back to the vet.
It is best to consult your vet for the answer to this question as the lump could be an infection, hematoma, or even debris the body is trying to expel. Make sure to note the color of the area, how quickly the lump has developed, and any other symptoms to tell the vet. These may include if the lump is under the skin or if it has burst, if it seeps at all, and how irritated the general area looks. Regardless, this is not something you can treat at home.
It depends on the severity of the wound. A small scratch could heal within a week or two, whereas a severe bite could take months. The more vulnerable your dog is due to age or health will also cause the healing period to be longer. If you find after a few weeks or months that your dog’s wound has made no progress with healing, it may be worth going back to the vets. Your dog may need some supplements to help or prescribed medications.
Your dog may not feel well after the dog bite or they may be very anxious and afraid. This event will cause a large adrenaline rush and this is enough to affect a dog’s behavior. The injury may cause them to feel woozy from blood loss, the pain can also affect their behavior. In a stressful and traumatic situation such as this one, it is understandable that your dog may not be acting normal.
Hopefully now you feel prepared for this scenario, although we hope you will never have to be. Just remember to try to stay calm and always contact your vet unless you have medical experience. Even if it is a minor bite, it is always better to bring them to a professional. Your vet can also minimize their pain and settle your worries.