To many dog owners, their furry friends make their lives better. From the extra company on a morning walk to a running buddy, dogs are the ultimate sidekick. More than 36% of U.S. households own at least one dog. But what happens if your dog bites you or someone else. It’s important to understand dog bite dangers.
Dog bites are common and can happen almost anywhere, at any time. Whether it’s because the dog is frightened by a loud noise or being in an unfamiliar environment, stressed dogs become aggressive with anyone in the immediate area.
Getting bitten can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved. On average, “a dog bites one out of every 69 people,” according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control. And according to CDC dog bite statistics, one in five people require medical attention after a dog bite. While you have to deal with the immediate pain, you also need to be prepared for the risk of dog bite infections or the threat of contracting a dangerous disease. By knowing potential dog bite dangers, you can take action immediately to treat any possible conditions from dog bites.
Why do dogs bite?
Many factors could contribute to a dog biting another dog or person. A stressful situation or the desire to protect themselves and their owners are two of the top causes of dog bites. Dogs also are more likely to bite children rather than adults.
Be cautious when approaching an unfamiliar dog. Always ask the owner if it’s OK to pet a dog before reaching out. New scents and a new environment can make a dog anxious and cause him to become aggressive.
What diseases can you get from a dog bite?
In addition to being painful, dog bites can spread several germs between dogs and humans. There are over 700 different kinds of bacteria that live in a dogs’ mouth, with only a few that can make humans sick. If a dog has bitten you, here are the top three diseases you can get from a dog bites.
A virus that affects the brain and spinal cord, rabies is typically passed through a scratch or the saliva of an infected animal. The most common carriers of the disease are raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats, so it’s essential to keep dogs away from wild animals.
After being exposed to rabies, dogs may show extreme changes in their behavior. They become more prone to biting or snapping at any form of stimuli such as humans and animals. As it progresses, rabies can cause paralysis of the throat and jaw, weakness, seizures, and death.
Symptoms of rabies infection are similar to the flu and can also include fever, agitation, excessive salivation, and partial paralysis.
In addition to the chance of a bad infection, dog bites can also result in the transmission of Tetanus. The bacteria Clostridium tetani causes the infection. Tetanus infects the body through both superficial and deep breaks in the skin.
Although typically uncommon and with an average of roughly 30 reported cases each year, Tetanus can still cause significant problems if you fail to stay up to date on your 10-year booster shot.
Symptoms of tetanus after a dog bite include jaw cramping, muscle stiffness, headache, and trouble swallowing.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a dangerous bacteria that can be carried by dogs without showing any symptoms. Transmission of this bacteria can lead to a staph infection that resists many antibiotics.
MRSA infections can cause serious health problems, such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia. The infection site will be red, warm to the touch, and painful, which can easily be mistaken for a small bug bite. Getting immediate medical treatment makes it less likely the injury will become serious.
What to do after a dog bite
If a dog bites you, get to a safe place, thoroughly clean the bite area with soap and water, and report the bite. According to Seattle dog bite lawyer Janelle Bailey, “A pet owner will be strictly liable for the actions of his or her pet, even if the owner did not know of the dog’s propensity for aggression.”
Antibiotic cream and a clean bandage is the best minor dog bite treatment. If you have a deep wound, if your injury becomes red, painful or swollen, or if you don’t know if the dog has a rabies vaccine, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Understand dog bite dangers
Owning a dog can be rewarding. You have a best friend and protector, all wrapped in one. Unfortunately, owning a dog who bites or being on the receiving end of a dog bite can be heartbreaking and sometimes costly in more ways than one.
Be sure to take the time to educate and protect yourself and your loved ones from dog bite dangers.