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Health Tip

Home :: Dog Bites

Dog Bite - First Aid Treatment

A bite or scratch from a dog (or cat) that breaks the skin poses the danger of infection, especially if the wound is deep. Bites also carry the risk of rabies. Most household pets are immunized against rabies, but the possibility of infection still exists. It is also possible to contract a tetanus infection from an animal bite. Clostridium tetani, the microbe that causes tetanus, lives in the top layers of soil, and in the intestinal tracts of cows and horses, and easily infects wounds that result in reduced oxygen flow in the tissue, particularly crushing and puncture wounds.

A dog bite can be nothing more than a minor graze, or it can be so severe as to be life-threatening. Children are at most risk from dog bites, and children under five years of age are victims of the most severe attacks-many of them requiring hospitalization.

A dog bite or scratch must be immediately washed and cleaned with soap and water, as the rabies virus can gain entry into the body even from a minute abrasion. The virus is transmitted through a dog's saliva. If the dog is a stray, it is obviously not immunized, and it is vital to seek medical help. The virus can lie dormant for a few hours to a couple of days, but it is actively multiplying all the time. It should be immediately neutralized at its site of entry. No time should be lost.

Dog bites result in approximately 44,000 facial injuries in US hospitals each year. This represents between 0.5% and 1.5% of all emergency room visits. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite. Male patients slightly outnumber females in most studies. Unfortunately children comprise 60% of the dog bite victims.

First aid treatment

  • If the wound barely breaks the skin, treat it as a minor wound. Scrub the bite thoroughly with soap and running water. Apply antibiotic cream and a loose sterile bandage.
  • If the bite creates a deep puncture of the skin or the skin is badly torn and bleeding, apply pressure to stop the bleeding and see your doctor.

Home remedies for dog bite treatment

  • Echinacea, goldenseal, pau d'arco, and red clover, taken in tea form, are good for dog bites. Goldenseal extract can also be applied directly on the affected area. This is a natural antibiotic that helps to fight infection. Caution: Do not take goldenseal internally on a daily basis for more than one week at a time, and do not use it during pregnancy. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or glaucoma, use it only under supervision.
  • If you are bitten by a dog, the first thing you should do is remove the animal's saliva from the wound. Wash the area thoroughly with warm water, then add soap and wash for at least five minutes more. Rinse the wound for a few more minutes with plain water and cover it with a gauze dressing for twenty-four hours.
  • Finely ground red chili powder/ paste applied immediately on the wound neutralizes the virus. The wound does not get infected, and heals fast. This remedy really hurts, and the pain may cause shock
  • Asafoetida, powdered fine and dusted thickly on the bite, apparently draws the infection out. It has a pronounced astringent effect and absorbs local moisture and the virus.
  • An application of fresh onion juice and honey is another remedy.

Dog Bite Prevention

  • Most dog bites can be prevented. Teach children not to disturb dogs while they eat, sleep or care for puppies. Children should never be left alone with a dog. Neuter your dog.
  • Keep pets on a leash when in public.
  • Select your family pet carefully, and be sure to keep your pet's vaccinations (shots) up-to-date.
  • If a dog attacks, curl up into a ball to protect your face, neck and head.
  • Teach children how to behave around animals, and teach them not to approach strange animals. Never leave a young child alone with an animal-even the family pet.

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