About Dog Bite & Rabies

Studies show that though stray dogs do bite most of the times a known dog especially the pet dog attacks humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mostly children between the ages of 5 and 9 are victims to dog bites.

It is important to visit a doctor especially if the dog is unknown, the bite is deep, there is excessive bleeding or there are signs of infection like swelling, redness, pus etc. Dog bites can cause infections and may lead to Rabies which requires medical supervision.

The virus transferred to the human body through the bite of an infected dog or other animals such as bats, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, and skunks causes Rabies. If not treated quickly this virus causes swelling in the brain which may lead to Respiratory failure, Convulsions, and even death.

The main causes why dogs bite includes:

  • Lack of affection; as with feral dogs
  • A starved dog
  • A dog conditioned to become an attacker
  • If someone intrudes in the dog’s territory
  • Human behavior such as challenging for food or water, attacking (or perceived attacking) a dog or its companions, failure to recognize insecurity or fear, intervention when dogs fight, and a threatening body language instigate dogs to bite
  • Pain or sickness can incite a dog to attack

Symptoms of dog bite include:

  • Laceration
  • Abrasion
  • Puncture Wound
  • Wound Pain
  • Skin Redness
  • Skin Tenderness
  • Skin Swelling
  • Skin Numbness
  • Skin Pain
  • Loss of Skin
  • Deformed Skin
  • Wound Bleeding

Symptoms of an infected dog bite include:

  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Redness around the bite
  • Tenderness around the bite
  • Pus in the wound
  • Red streaks around the wound
  • Swollen Lymph glands above the bite


Contact a General Physician to treat dog bites and Rabies.

Tests and Investigations

The Physician anesthetizes the wound and examines if there is any damage done to the muscle, nerve, tendon, or bone.

Treatment Modalities Available

First Aid at home:

  1. Try to stop the bleeding by keeping the affected area elevated
  2. Clean the wound
  3. Apply antibiotic appointment and a sterile bandage on the wound

It is also important to find out:

  1. The Rabies immunization status of the dog and,
  2. The Tetanus status of the victim

A visit to a medical practitioner is advisable.

People with weak immunity and suffering from diseases such as Diabetes, Liver ailments and similar illnesses are at a higher risk of severe infection.

The practitioner would recommend the correct treatment for the damaged skin, injury to underlying tissues and infection. Depending on its intensity the wound heals on its own, requires surgery if there is significant skin damage or sutured if the wound is on a noticeable part of the body like the face. As for the medication, some practitioners advise antibiotics while others wait until the wound shows signs of potential infection.

The potential infection is of great significance.

Common bacteria involved in dog bite infections include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Pasteurella. A non-immunized dog entails a risk of Rabies for the victim. In such a case the victim requires a vaccination to protect him from the disease. The usual dosage is 5 vaccinations given over a period of 28 days. Most patients receive a treatment called Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG), on the day the bite occurred.

Complication in Management

Dog bites can cause infections that may lead to Rabies. Delay in medical supervision results in swelling in the brain which may lead to Respiratory failure, Convulsions, and even death.  If the Rabies immunization status of the dog is in the negative, then the victim requires Rabies Therapy.

Also, read about: Dog Vaccination Guide.

Precautions during Treatment

During treatment of dog bites monitoring the wound is significant. Keeping a watch for signs of infection such as, pain, redness, swelling, and drainage of pus or fluid is of immense importance.

Dietary and Physical Activity Requirements during the Course of the Treatment

There are no specific dietary and physical activity requirements during the course of treatment of dog bites.

Risk of Infection to other Family Members

There is no risk of infection to the family members of the victim. Usually, humans do not get infected if the saliva of an infected animal drops on their broken skin (burnt, cut etc.). Saliva droplet aerosols may also rarely cause Rabies.

Prevention to Avoid Recurrence

To prevent dog bites one should:

  1. Stay away from unknown and stray dogs
  2. Choose a dog breed as a pet which has good temperament
  3. Should not leave infants and children alone with dogs
  4. Should not disturb or poke a dog when it is eating or feeding its puppies
  5. If a dog becomes aggressive, one should stay calm and not scream or run away

Support from Family

A dog bite or Rabies victim requires psychological support from the family to fight the pain and to recover fast.

image courtesy – pexels

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