Dogs are our best friends, but some of them may behave otherwise. In the United States alone, dogs bite 4.5 million people each year.
Of course, the best defense against dog bites is prevention. If you’re choosing a dog for your family, pick one with a gentle temperament. Stay away from dogs you don’t know, and never leave young children alone with a dog.
If an aggressive dog attacks you, the most important thing is to not panic. Move slowly, don’t try to run away, and don’t make eye contact. If you do get bitten, take the following three steps.
1. Control Bleeding
First, place a clean towel or cloth over the injury to stop the bleeding. Apply gentle but firm pressure on the wound. If possible, keep the injured area elevated to slow blood supply. Don’t use a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe.
Once you stop the bleeding, cleanse the area carefully with soap and water. Washing the inside of the bite area is fine. Then, cover the wound with a sterile bandage. To prevent infection, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound every day.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Your next step should be to take a trip to the hospital or urgent care center. This is particularly important if the wound is deep, you see signs of infection, or you can’t stop the bleeding. You should also see a doctor if you don’t know the owner of the dog that bit you.
A doctor can find out whether the bite was deep enough to damage your muscles, nerves, or bones. They’ll clean the bite wound to remove any traces of bacteria. They may order x-rays or other tests if they suspect a deep tissue injury.
Your doctor will also take further measures to prevent infection. Very few dogs in the U.S. have rabies, but it’s possible that the dog’s health status will be unknown. In this case, you’ll need to undergo a series of rabies shots.
Depending on the extent of the injury, you may also need to take antibiotics for one to two weeks.
3. Know Your Rights
Regardless of how serious the wound is, a dog bite isn’t something you should take lightly. If you suffer this type of personal injury, you may be in line for financial compensation. This is why your best bet is to find a lawyer to represent you.
You should also gather as much information about the dog and its owner as you can. Ask for a copy of the dog’s license and take pictures of your wounds. Use these to file a dog bite report. Note the location of the incident and what you were doing when you were attacked.
More on Dealing With an Aggressive Dog
A dog might bite you because it’s afraid, hurting, guarding its space, and so on.
Either way, they’ll signal their attack by snarling, growling, standing rigidly, or pinning their ears back. Watch out for these signs and react accordingly.
Want to know more about how to deal with a particularly aggressive dog? Not sure how to find the best dog bite lawyer for your needs? Keep reading our Legal section!