A dog bite can cause multiple injuries, both at the time and down the road. Infectious diseases are but one common complication of dog bites. Whenever a dog bites you, get professional medical attention for the wound.
Some of the infectious diseases found in a dog’s saliva are preventable, but only if you get the shots in time. Once the illness develops, there is no cure or reliable treatment for some of these conditions.
Immediate Medical Attention
Right after the dog bite, you should get professional medical care to achieve the best possible outcome. Dog bites are notoriously dirty wounds susceptible to infection. The tissue damage needs to be cleaned, repaired, and wrapped in sterile dressings. You might need stitches, antibiotics, or surgery.
You can sustain damage to your soft tissue, skin, nerves, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, muscles, and other organs from a dog attack. Some of this harm is not visible from the outside. Your doctor might have to use imaging like X-rays to see the extent of the damage below the surface.
Emergency surgery. You might need emergency surgery for these reasons:
- Repair ripped flesh, including the layers of your skin, connective tissue, and other soft tissue
- Close torn blood vessels and stop the bleeding
- Restore the function, flexibility, and range of motion of ligaments and tendons
- Minimize the long-term scarring
- Set fractures
- Treat lacerations
Locations of Injuries from Dog Attacks
Dogs can tend to go for a person’s face and throat or hands and arms. Other areas the dog might bite include the person’s feet, ankles, back, and legs.
All of these injury locations require a different medical approach. The trauma specialists at the emergency room should evaluate the situation and tailor your medical treatment for the location of your injuries and other factors.
Follow-up Medical Care for Dog Bite Injuries
Depending on the type and severity of the injuries you sustained, you might have to undergo additional medical procedures after the initial emergency care.
Fractures. If the incident caused fractured bones, you can usually expect to wear a cast, splint, or another orthopedic device for weeks or longer while your bones heal. After the cast comes off, the doctor will probably send you for physical therapy to rebuild your strength, flexibility, function, and range of motion.
Disfiguring injuries. After the initial trauma care, the emergency surgeon might send you to a plastic surgeon to perform additional procedures.
Complications of Dog Bites
Infection is one of the most lethal consequences of dog bites. Your trauma team in the emergency room, urgent care center, or doctor’s office should evaluate your risk of these complications and decide what preventative measures they should take to lower your risk of infection.
You should never wait until you develop signs of infection from a dog bite to seek medical care. At the first sign of infection, however, you should immediately get medical attention.
Ordinary Infection. It is vital to clean and sanitize the site of the bite thoroughly to prevent a common infection.
Rabies. The emergency room personnel should evaluate your risk of exposure to rabies and decide if you need rabies shots. It is possible to prevent rabies, however, if you get these shots before any symptoms of rabies appear:
- A human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) injection,
- A post-exposure anti-rabies vaccination, and
- A tetanus shot (unless you have had one recently)
Some of the initial signs of rabies are headaches, fever, weakness, and overall discomfort.
Tetanus. The Clostridium tetani bacteria causes tetanus, also called lockjaw. Deep puncture wounds result in many of the cases of tetanus, and a dog’s teeth can drive the tetani bacteria deep into your tissue.
Like rabies, there is no reliable treatment for tetanus, but medical professionals can prevent the disease, as long as you get the tetanus shot in time. Once the symptoms start, it is too late to avoid the disease, but you should still get emergency medical care.
The early signs of tetanus include fever, headaches, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and clenching of your neck, jaw or abdominal muscles. The muscle cramps are intense enough to break your bones.
How to Get Help for a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit
We can talk with you about your right to compensation for dog bite injuries. Just call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000, and we’ll arrange your free consultation. A dog bite lawyer can help you recover compensation. You may be wondering if you need to bring a dog bite case to court or what the dog bite laws in Washington state are, a lawyer knows the answer to these and all of your questions.