It’s true that a dog is a man’s best friend. However, the animal may still bite from time to time. Whether the bite is caused by your own furry pal or someone else’s, it has to be taken seriously. The application of prompt first aid is important, as well as bringing the victim to the hospital if the bite wound is deep or caused by a dog you don’t know or one that seems rabid.
According to the Centers for Disease Control or CDC, about 4.5 millions of Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Half of the victims are children between 5 and 9 years old. Stray dogs are usually the culprits behind many dog bite cases.
Several problems may arise from a dog bite. Some of them include wound infection, tetanus and, the scariest of the bunch, rabies. Especially if the owner of the dog doesn’t have any proof of immunization or the animal is showing some signs of being rabid (frothing at the mouth, constant barking and growling, disorientation, dilated pupils, episodes of aggression, etc.), it’s very important for the victim to be seen by a specialist right away for vaccination.
Dog Bite First Aid and Home Remedies
- Immediately wash the dog bite with soap and water. It’s a good idea to do it for about 5 minutes in order to remove as much of the saliva of the dog as possible. Rinse with cold water to help put a stop to the bleeding.
- Place a clean gauze or towel over the wound. If the bleeding refuses to stop, keep the affected body part elevated.
- Topical antibiotic should be applied on the dog bite on a daily basis to help ward off infection. Regular cleaning of the wound as well as changing of the dressing has to be done to prevent infection and hasten the healing.
- Daily intake of vitamin C helps speed up wound healing. It also strengthens the immune system to keep wound infection at bay.
- Taking vitamin B-complex is recommended too as it helps produce antibodies against microorganisms that may cause infection of the bite wound.
- Many swear by the consumption of goldenseal tea upon getting bitten by a dog, although this home remedy is not ideal for pregnant women. It’s also a good idea to apply golden seal directly on the minor wound.
- An open wound may need stitching so it’s best to take the victim to the hospital to have the wound seen by a doctor.
Opting for home remedies is only recommended if the dog is owned by the victim and he or she is positive that the animal is fully immunized. If a neighbor’s dog is the one responsible for the wound, it’s very important to ask the owner if the animal has received the necessary immunization. Don’t just take the neighbor’s word for it — ask for a proof!
A Quick Introduction to Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted to humans from animals, usually through bites and scratches as well as contact with the infectious material such as the saliva of the rabid animal. While the disease can come from many infected animals, dogs are the primary sources of majority of human deaths brought about by rabies.
Rabies can be very deadly. However, according to the World Health Organization or WHO, the onset of the viral disease and even death may be prevented by the immediate cleansing of the bite wound and immunization within a few hours after being bitten by an animal suspected to be rabid.
Symptoms of Rabies
The early symptoms of rabies include fever and tingling or burning sensation in the bite wound. Typically, the incubation period is anywhere between 1 to 3 months, although it may also be just under a week or over a year.
There are a couple of forms of the disease that may transpire. One of them is furious rabies wherein the victim exhibits signs such as excited behavior, hyperactivity and hydrophobia (irrational or extreme fear of water). An individual afflicted with furious rabies may die in just a few days due to cardiac and respiratory arrest.
The other form of the disease is paralytic rabies, something which accounts to around 30% of all cases among humans. This rabies form usually has a longer course than furious rabies, and the signs are less remarkable too. Paralysis of the muscles progressively occurs, starting from the bite wound. Gradually, coma develops and death follows.