Dog bites have the potential to cause serious injuries. Not only are the wounds painful, but they can result in expensive medical bills. While minor dog bite injuries tend to be straightforward to treat, severe cases may require extensive, long-term treatment. If you or a family member has been bitten by a dog, getting appropriate medical care can help minimize the chances of infections and other complications.
Here, we provide some guidance on seeking medical treatment if you are bitten by a dog in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois. The Chicago dog bite attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg are ready to help you file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.
How to Treat a Dog Bite Wound
If you or someone you know has suffered a dog bite, administering basic first aid can help decrease the risk of infections. Follow these steps right away to treat a minor dog bite injury at home:
- Stop the bleeding using a clean cloth or towel to apply pressure.
- Clean the injured area by washing with soap and warm water.
- Cover the wound with a sterile bandage; you can also apply an antibacterial ointment.
- Keep the injured area elevated to prevent swelling.
After caring for a dog bite injury, it is important to watch for signs of infection such as swelling, redness, pus or fever. If you were bitten by an unknown dog, chances are you do not know its immunization status, which raises concerns about rabies and other infections.
Be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible, even if your injuries seem minor. A medical professional can identify any complications and determine whether further treatment is needed. You may require emergency medical care if you suffered multiple bites, your injuries are severe, the bleeding does not stop, the wound is very deep or it becomes infected.
Dog Bite Infections
What makes dog bites so dangerous is the possibility of infection, particularly when the skin is broken or punctured. A dog’s mouth has bacteria that can be transferred deep into a wound via a bite. Around 10 to 15 percent of dog bites become infected, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Infections that arise from dog bites include rabies, tetanus, staph, MRSA, Pasteurella and others. The risk of infection is greater if you were bitten by an unfamiliar dog who lacked the proper, up-to-date vaccinations. A doctor may use antibiotics to treat a dog bite patient if the wound is severe or shows signs of infection.
- Rabies: Rabies is a viral infection that is fatal if left untreated. If a dog has rabies or its vaccination status is unknown, you may need additional treatment. You may receive a series of rabies vaccine shots over several days to prevent the development of the disease.
- Tetanus: Dog bites can result in tetanus in rare cases. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms, among other symptoms. If a dog bite has broken the skin, a tetanus shot may be necessary to prevent infection, depending on when the victim last received a tetanus booster.
Further Medical Treatments for Serious Dog Bites
Treatments for dog bites depend on many different factors including the severity of the wound, how big the bite is and where on the body it is located. For example, facial wounds are especially concerning as they can cause significant scarring and harm the eyes, nose, mouth or ears. Dog bites on the hands pose a high risk of infection as well as the possible loss of function.
Seeing a medical professional after a dog attack is crucial. Dog bites can cause deep puncture wounds that result in extensive damage to muscles, nerves, tendons or bones. Your doctor will examine your wounds to determine the extent of any underlying damage and recommend additional treatments accordingly.
When a dog’s teeth pierce the skin, they can cause lacerations and heavy bleeding. Some injuries require emergency medical attention, such as when there is avulsion in which tissue is torn away from the body. Treatments for dog bites can include:
- Stitches: Certain wounds, such as facial and bodily lacerations, may require stitches. If the edges of a wound are unable to meet, doctors may decide to use stitches to close the skin. Dog bite injuries to the face tend to be sutured, while those on other parts of the body may heal on their own.
- Surgery: Surgery may be necessary if there is substantial skin damage or loss, such as with avulsion. For example, when a dog rips an ear. When children are bitten, they may have to undergo surgery to repair lacerations. A doctor will determine whether surgery is needed based on the severity and depth of the wound.
- Skin treatments: Dog bite victims who suffer severe injuries may need to get treatment from a plastic surgeon. In cases that involve scarring or disfigurement, the patient may require skin grafts, dermabrasion or plastic surgery.
Getting Compensation for Your Medical Bills
Getting prompt and proper treatment for dog bite wounds is vital for avoiding any complications. Medical care for dog bite injuries can be expensive, potentially racking up thousands of dollars in hospital bills. Some dog bite victims even suffer permanent damage after an attack, such as mobility issues or scarring.
A dog attack can also result in lasting trauma. Children are particularly vulnerable to anxiety and fear around dogs after a distressing bite incident.
Filing a dog bite claim enables you to pursue compensation for medical expenses as well as emotional distress and other costs related to your injuries. An experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer can help you understand your legal options. Contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to learn more and schedule a free initial consultation.