What To Do If You Are Bitten by an Animal?
Author, Dorinne Whynott, Owner of Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Animal bites range from minor scrapes, to life threatening puncture wounds. Animal bites usually occur on the legs, hands, face and arms. Bites from dogs are generally the most common type of injuries. Animal bites may happen for a number of different reasons, from puppies in teething stages nipping you, to attacks by strange/unknown dogs on the street to wildlife coming out of no where. A bite incident can be very traumatizing and can lead to serious health issues. When dealing with an animal bite, there are steps to take; however, what you do will depend on the particular circumstances and the severity of the injuries.
In this article, we are going to give you a general step by step guide on what you should do when dealing with an animal bite, but NEVER hesitate to go to the emergency room for medical care.
Step 1 – Make Sure You are Safe, and Stay Calm
Before treating any bite wound, you should make sure that you or the injured person is safe from the attacking animal. Get to a safe place. You should also try to remain calm.
Step 2 – Assess Your Injuries
You need to assess the injuries from the attack so as to determine if you need immediate medical attention.
If you have not had a tetanus vaccine within 5-10 years, you should go to the hospital or your doctor now. If the Animal is unidentified and rabies is unknown, you will need to go to the hospital now.
If you are bleeding heavily or the wound is deep or large, it is best to go to the hospital. If you feel in anyway light headed or not your self, you should seek medical treatment.
If you believe it is a minor or superficial gash or scrape, clean the wound using running water. Carefully remove any debris present from bite, soak the entire area in a Betadyne solution. Unlike alcohol, it does not sting and is the best for killing bacteria. This is usually what the emergency room will have you do. Betadyne Solution can be purchased at any drugstore and is a good thing to have in your medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, this may leave an orange tint to your skin. If the bite is on a hand or foot, soak the entire area for about 15 minutes. If it is in an area that this is not possible, use a cotton ball to flush the area as best you can. Dry the area. Do NOT cover or bandage the puncture. Punctures must heal from the inside out, so you do not want this wound to scab over. If it does, it could trap any bacteria inside, after a while the bacteria will multiply and form an abcess. To prevent the wound from scabbing over, soak at least twice a day in Betadyne and gently scrub off any softened scab with a washcloth. This will allow the wound to drain and kill any bacteria underneath while soaking in the Betadyne.
Step 3 – Keep moving is the trick
If you sustained a bite wound that is near or in any muscle, the muscle’s first reaction to trauma is to tighten. If you do not immediately and continue to use that traumatized muscle it will remain tight and be VERY painful. Inhibiting use for a long time.
Here is what I learned from a sports medicine doctor. A few decades ago, I was engaged to a Motocross Racer. In this sport, it is inevitable that riders will get injured. Every time there was any trauma to a muscled area these sports doctors would get them moving as soon as possible, to get that muscle to relax. Making that muscle pain free and usable much faster.
During this time I was severely attacked by an Akita. I sustained 14 puncture wounds all over my left forearm and hand. While My arm was soaking in Betadyne, I was encouraged to open and close my hand and move my wrist back and forth. Did it hurt, yes it did. But after a while the pain subsided and by the next day, I had little to no pain and was able to use my arm and hand.
I was amazed, since I remember getting one little puncture on my hand and it being unbearably painful. I was told to baby it and I was not able to use my hand for weeks!
So, move, move, move! You will thank me.
Step 4 – If possible Identify the Animal
You should identify the animal that bit you. Use your phone, take as many pictures as you can (as long as you are safe). If it was a dog, that was with its owner, make sure to get information of the owner or the person who had custody of the dog when he attacked you. This is a very important step because the dog’s owner will be responsible for the injuries sustained and you will need Rabies information. Obtain the names and the address from the dog owner, and also ask for the dog’s license information.
Step 5 – Talk to Witnesses and ask for Photographs
If there were people around you when the incident happened, make sure you collect their information, including: phone numbers, names and addresses. The witnesses can help support any bite claim you might have. You should also ask if they took pictures of the situation; photos of the incident, the animal, and the injuries sustained. These photos can help you remember the series of events when the attack happened, and to help identify the animal.
Step 6 – File a Dog Bite Report
After you have been treated, you may want to file a dog bite report with the appropriate city authorities. This establishes or adds to the legal records of the dog, which in turn helps future possible victims through enforcement. Without any paper trail, the authorities can’t enforce effectively.
Keep in mind that two bite reports for a single dog, may result in the homeowner unable to receive home insurance until the dog is euthanized. If this is a vicious dog, this may be best for everyone’s safety, especially if the owner is unwilling or unable to train and contain this dog. However, if this was an accident because this dog was scared or startled, you may want to think about making a report.
So, to recap –
If you are bitten or attacked, Get safe.
Ascertain your wounds and treat. Move those muscles.
Get information and pictures. Try to Identify the Animal.
Hopefully, you did move alot and are now pain free!
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About the Owner and Professional Pet Sitting Etc
Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
Professional Pet Sitting Etc. is a leading business in the pet care field and continues to grow since 1990. It is an AWARD WINNING business, having been awarded the 2015 Best Pet Sitting , 2015 Best Dog Walker, Business of the Year Awards in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2010. It boasts 30+ amazing pet sitters on staff, over 3000 clients in 38 cities from Nashua to Concord, NH. Hundreds of satisfied client testimonials can be found on their website and more 5 star reviews on their Facebook page, Google+ page and more. They have sustained an A+ rating with the BBB, A rating with Angie’s List and are unmatched in the Pet Sitting Industry in New Hampshire.
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