Being bitten by someone else’s dog in Massachusetts can be a traumatic and potentially dangerous experience. Considering that 65.1 million American households have a dog, according to Statista, it is important to know what steps to take if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.
Although you may feel stressed out and overwhelmed, being deliberate about what steps to take can help you stay safe.
Get to a safe location
After a dog bite, the first instinct should be to remove yourself from the immediate danger. If you are still near the dog, try to calmly and slowly back away to a safe distance so another bite does not happen.
Identify the dog and owner
If possible, identify the dog and its owner before leaving the scene. This information will be helpful later for medical records and potential legal actions, should they become necessary.
Control bleeding and other immediate issues
If the bite has broken the skin and is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or bandage. Elevate the affected limb if possible, as this can help reduce blood flow to the wound.
Clean the wound thoroughly
Once the bleeding is under control, it is important to clean the wound to prevent infection. Use mild soap and warm water to gently cleanse the area. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean, sterile cloth.
Dress the wound
After cleaning, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with a sterile bandage. Change the dressing daily or as directed by a healthcare professional.
Seek medical attention
Even if the wound does not appear severe, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Dog bites can introduce harmful bacteria into the body, possibly leading to an issue like rabies. A healthcare professional will evaluate the wound’s severity, recommend appropriate treatment and may administer a tetanus shot if necessary.
If you can do so safely, take pictures of the injury, the dog and the scene of the incident. This documentation may be valuable if you need to pursue legal action in the future.
Follow up on medical care
Follow any medical recommendations given by healthcare professionals. This may include taking prescribed antibiotics, attending follow-up appointments or undergoing additional treatments like stitches or wound closure.
Remember that dog bites can vary in severity, and their long-term consequences may not be immediately evident. Paying close attention to your health and any reactions your body has after a bite is important.