About 880,000 people in America seek medical treatment athospitals every year after being bitten by a dog. However, the estimates of thetotal number of dog bites every year is closer to 4.5 million.
A dog has rounded teeth and pressure from their jaws cancause a significant amount of damage to tissues under the skin, but also bones,muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels.
More than 30,000 victims need to have reconstructive surgeryeach year and in between 15 and 20 people die from dog bites annually.
Dogs more frequently bite men than women, thoughinterestingly, cats tend to bite women more.
Children are most likely to be bitten by dogs, especiallyyounger ones between the ages of five and nine.
Once someone has been bitten, they should first be taken toa safe place, away from the dog that has attacked him or her. The wound thenneeds to be elevated and washed if possible.
It is also very important to talk to the dog’s owner tosee if the dog has received all the proper vaccinations and immunizations,especially for rabies. If this is not possible, then the hospital or police canhelp to obtain the information.
If the dog is rabid, then the rabies treatment must bestarted immediately, and the victim’s tetanus status should be known as well.
Most often, there are skin abrasions or punctures resultingfrom a dog bite, and it is important to keep the wound clean and to make surethat it does not get infected.
The treatment depends on what has been injured, whetherjust skin or underlying tissues have been injured, or bones and nerves havealso suffered damage.
If it is a laceration it is important to see whether atendon has been lacerated and if the finger is able to move.
It is important to make sure that the wound is not infected,because dog bites inoculate bacteria deep into the tissue. Common bacteria inthese cases include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Pasteurella.
Sometimes a surgery must be performed to correct seriousinjuries, but other times, the person will be fine if he or she just keeps theskin and wound clean and lets it heal, in cases of minor bites.
When infants or children are bitten, they should be taken tosee the doctor.
There are things to be done, however, to decrease the chancesof being bitten by a dog. It is important to choose a breed of dog that iscompatible with the family, because dogs that have aggressive personalitieswould probably not be recommended for households with children in them.
It is important to approach a dog slowly when trying to petit and giving it time to acknowledge one's presence. It is also wise toask a dog owner if it is all right before trying to pet his or her dog.