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The importance of hospital visits after a dog bite

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2023 | Injuries |

When a dog bites you, it might seem like a minor injury at first, especially if the wound does not appear severe. However, underestimating the seriousness of a dog bite can lead to significant health risks. According to the CDC, over 4.5 million people deal with dog bites each year in the United States and more than 800,000 of those people have to seek medical care for their bite.

Seeking immediate medical attention, preferably at a hospital, is important for several reasons. Dog bites can cause various complications, some of which may not be immediately apparent. As someone who might experience or has experienced a dog bite, understanding the importance of visiting the hospital can make a significant difference in your recovery and overall health.

Assess the risk of infection

One of the primary concerns with dog bites is the risk of infection. Dogs’ mouths contain a host of bacteria, and when they bite, these bacteria can enter your wound. Even a small, clean-looking bite can get infected. Medical professionals at the hospital can properly clean and assess your wound, reducing the risk of infection. They can also provide you with antibiotics if necessary, to prevent or treat an infection.

Evaluate the need for a tetanus shot

If it has been a long time since your last tetanus shot, you might need a booster. Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that can result from wounds like dog bites. The staff at the hospital can determine whether you need a tetanus shot based on your vaccination history and the specifics of the bite.

Check for rabies

Another serious concern with dog bites is rabies, a deadly virus that an animal’s saliva can transmit. If the dog that bit you is unknown or unvaccinated, the risk of rabies becomes a significant concern. At the hospital, healthcare providers can assess the risk and administer rabies post-exposure prophylaxis if necessary.

Identify hidden injuries

Some dog bites can cause damage beneath the skin, such as to muscles, tendons or nerves, that is not immediately visible. At the hospital, doctors can perform a thorough examination and, if necessary, order imaging tests to check for any underlying injuries.

Do not take a dog bite lightly, as prompt medical attention can prevent serious health complications and ensure proper healing of the wound. Remember, it is always better to be safe and seek medical care after a dog bite.


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