A bite from a dog can cause severe bleeding, infectious disease and disfiguring injury. Even if your wound is relatively minor, the attack itself can cause psychological trauma.
A dog bite requires prompt action to minimize long-term negative effects. However, because the experience can be overwhelming, it can be difficult to figure out what you should do first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain some of the most important steps to take.
Get the necessary medical care
If the wound is superficial, you may be able to perform first aid yourself by bandaging the wound after cleansing it with soap and water. Deep wounds that bleed profusely probably need emergency medical care. Try to stop bleeding by placing a clean cloth over the wound and applying pressure.
Dog bites may penetrate more deeply than they appear at first. Even if you can perform first aid yourself, it is still a good idea to have a medical evaluation as soon as possible to determine if you need any inoculations and to rule out an injury that is more serious than it appears at first.
Confirm the dog’s vaccination history
If possible, contact the dog’s owner and ask when it had its last vaccination against rabies. If you cannot confirm that the dog is immune to rabies due to inoculation, you may have to have the rabies vaccine yourself.
Report the bite
You may want to report the bite to law enforcement or animal control, especially if you cannot confirm the dog’s vaccination history. If there is a chance of rabies infection, authorities want to know about it so that they can take steps to prevent the spread of the disease. A report from law enforcement describing the incident may also be helpful to you later.