Here’s what to do if a dog bites you


Last year, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kim Zolciak endured every pet owner’s worst nightmare when her dog bit her four-year-old son. Kolciak’s dog Sinn, a husky-boxer mix, unexpectedly bit her son, Kash, in the face when her husband, Kroy Biermann, was using a leaf blower in their yard.

Sinn was known not to like the noise from the leaf blower so they believe that may have been what triggered his aggressive behavior. Whatever the reason for the bite, Kash’s injuries were traumatic and he nearly lost his eye.

In the Instagram post above, which shows little Kash being treated at a hospital, Zolciak described the ordeal as “a living nightmare.”

Kash has needed several surgeries in the months since the incident but People reported that he’s almost completely healed. After talking with child psychologists and understanding what made Sinn act out, the family decided to keep their beloved dog, especially because of the “incredible bond” between he and Kash.

The bite initiated important discussions about dog bites and children’s safety. No matter how loyal and wonderful dogs can be, they do occasionally bite, often due to fear, aggression, past abuse or a misunderstood attempt at playfulness.

dog with bone photo
Flickr | ishane

About 4.5 million dog-bite injuries happen each year in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common victims of dog bites are boys from 5 to 9 years old. Even if not all those bites result in serious injuries, it’s important for anyone who spends time around dogs to know how to handle a bite, as it relates to both treating the wound and disciplining the animal.

What To Do After A Dog Bites

The first thing to assess is where the bite occurred. If the bite is on the victim’s head or neck, call 911 or seek medical attention right away. The CDC also recommends washing any bite or scratch wounds with warm soapy water immediately. It’s important to clean and dress the wound right away. Animal bites can easily lead to infection, even if the pet has been vaccinated for rabies.

If the wound doesn’t require hospital treatment, apply antibiotic ointment and a clean bandage, and continue to do so each day until the wound heals. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean a dog bite, as it can weaken the tissue and actually make it harder for your body to heal.

If the wound is spurting or gushing blood, it’s important to apply pressure then get to the hospital right away, no matter where the wound is. You also need to seek medical attention if the bleeding is severe. To determine if the bleeding is severe, apply firm pressure to the wound for ten minutes. If the bleeding continues unabated, even after you do this, it means you need to go to the hospital, as stitches or sutures may be required.


Do You Know The Dog?

After being bitten by a dog that isn’t yours, it’s important to find out as much about the animal’s health as you can. If you can’t find out whether the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, it’s a good idea to go to the hospital. If the dog appears sick, a trip to the hospital is also a good idea.

Your doctor may choose to give you a rabies vaccine at the site of the bite, in order to prevent a possible rabies infection from taking hold, especially if the dog was exhibiting signs of rabies—such as being very aggressive or walking strangely, as if its body was partially paralyzed.

If it was a wild dog, do not try to capture the animal (some people think you should do this in order to have it tested for rabies). Instead, call animal control or the police and describe the dog to them and where you last saw it.


What Made The Dog Bite?

Zolciak told People that a “turning point” for her in understanding the moment her son was injured by her dog was realizing that Sinn simply bit Kash, rather than attacking him. “He nipped at Kash’s face in an attempt to communicate with Kash—not that that is an excuse—but he took off running,” she told the magazine. “It wasn’t as if he was attacking. Sinn knew he had done wrong.”

If it was your dog that bit you, you should look into possible reasons why the bite happened. Was the animal scared or feeling threatened? Could there be an underlying health issue which is putting them in pain and making them act strangely?

You should also make sure the dog has a “sanctuary”—like a crate—where they can escape when they’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s best to make sure the crate is located in a low-stress area of the house. You might also swap games like tug-of-war with something like fetch, which doesn’t involve aggressive behavior.

dog crate photo
Flickr | NatalieMaynor

Lastly, consider obedience training, and devote more time and energy into building the relationship you have with your dog. Dogs are man’s best friend, but they can also be dangerous if pet owners aren’t committed.

Animals, Family & Parenting, Health

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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature. Visit Scripps News to see more of Bridget's work.

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