Dogs that seem gentle and mild-mannered may suddenly lash out and bite children. Knowing how to respond to a dog bite may help keep infection and worsening wounds at bay.
Texas Children’s Hospital gives parents tips on how to respond when a dog bites their child. Quick action may keep a critical situation from spiraling out of control.
First aid for treating a dog bite involves using soap and warm water to clean the wound site and applying antibiotic ointment. Next, parents should bandage the injury.
Some bites are severe enough to require emergency medical care. Signs that a child may need to go to the emergency room include broken skin, signs of infection and bites to the face or neck. Children with weakened immune systems who sustain dog bites may also require a trip to the emergency room.
While receiving emergency medical care, a child may need stitches for a laceration or deep bite. Bites on the hands and feet and wounds at risk of becoming infected may not need stitches. Leaving these wounds open helps the bite heal by itself. Once the child recovers, she or he may need plastic surgery to address scars.
Parents should also expect children with dog bites that damage tendons, joints or bones to receive X-rays. Depending on the bite’s severity, a surgeon may recommend irrigating and repairing the wound.
High-risk wounds, diminished immune systems and sluggish healing may put a child at risk of infection. Medical care professionals may suggest three to five days of antibiotic treatments. Depending on the child’s vaccination records, she or he may need a tetanus vaccine.
The right response may help save a dog-bitten child from avoidable agony. Parents deserve to know how to keep their kids safe.