Dog bites can happen unexpectedly, and while most are minor and can be treated with basic first aid, there is a risk of infection associated with any wound. Knowing the signs of infection from a dog bite is crucial for ensuring timely medical intervention and preventing complications.
Redness and Swelling
A dog bite can cause initial redness and swelling, which is a normal part of the body’s response to injury. However, if these symptoms intensify over time, spreading beyond the immediate bite area, it may indicate an infection.
Pain and Tenderness
Pain and tenderness are expected after a dog bite, but persistent or worsening discomfort could be a sign of infection. Pay attention to the level of pain and tenderness and seek medical advice if they become more pronounced.
Warmth at the Bite Site
Inflammation is a natural response to injury, but if the area feels unusually warm, it is best to see a doctor to rule out infection.
Pus or Discharge
Healthy wounds generally heal with minimal or no discharge. Inspect the wound daily for pus or any unusual discharge, which often means infection.
Systemic symptoms like fever can be a red flag for infection spreading beyond the local wound. Monitor your body temperature and seek medical attention.
Increasing Pain After Initial Improvement
While some pain is expected initially, if the pain increases after an initial improvement, it might suggest an underlying issue.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Infection can cause lymph nodes near the affected area to swell.
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms after a dog bite, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Infections from animal bites can escalate quickly, and professional medical care, including antibiotic treatment, may be necessary to prevent complications.
Common Types of Infections from Dog Bites
Here are some common types of infections that can result from dog bites:
When a dog bites, its mouth carries a variety of bacteria, and if the skin is broken, these microorganisms can enter the wound. The warm and moist environment created by the bite provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, particularly if the wound is not promptly and properly cleaned. As bacteria multiply, they can lead to cellulitis, which can progress and potentially cause more severe complications if left untreated—for instance, infection in the joints, bones, and tendons, numbness or tingling, pneumonia, eye infections, UTIs, meningitis, and more.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium found on the skin and mucous membranes of humans and animals, including dogs. Once inside the bloodstream, Staphylococcus multiply and cause localized skin infections characterized by redness, swelling, and sometimes the formation of pus. In some cases, staph infections can become more severe, leading to potentially fatal conditions.
While rare, rabies is a serious viral infection that can be transmitted through a dog bite if the dog is infected. Initially you will feel flu-like symptoms that progress to neurological symptoms. Rabies is almost universally fatal once symptoms appear.
How To Prevent a Dog Bite From Becoming Infected
Here are steps you can take to minimize the risk of infection:
Clean the Wound Immediately
Wash the affected area with mild soap and water as soon as possible after the dog bite. This helps remove bacteria and debris from the wound.
Use an Antiseptic
Apply an antiseptic solution or ointment to the wound.
Cover the Wound
Use a sterile bandage or dressing to cover the bite. This protects it from further contamination and reduces the risk of introducing dirt or bacteria.
Seek Medical Attention
See a doctor, especially for deeper or puncture wounds. They can assess the severity of the bite and may recommend additional measures, such as antibiotics or a tetanus shot.
If You Are the Vicim of a Dog Bite, Contact Davis Kelin Law Firm