Dog bite

Skin | General Practice | Dog bite (Disease)


Dog bite injuries can range from abrasions, to deep puncture wounds and loss of tissue. Dog bites account for 90 percent of all animal bites. Because of their size and strength, dogs can cause serious injuries.

Causes and Risk factors

Dog bites can become infected if not treated appropriately but are less likely to become infected than cat bites. If the dog was large the bite can cause significant injuries to nerves, blood vessels, tendons and even break bones. Dog bites of the neck can potentially be life threatening.

Despite domestication, dogs, like their ancestors wolves, remain cunning, swift, agile, strong, territorial and voracious—even small ones have large, sharp teeth and claws and powerful muscles in their jaws and legs and can inflict serious injuries. The lacerations even from inadvertent dog scratches, let alone deliberate or reckless bites, are easily infected (most commonly by Capnocytophaga ochracea or Pasteurella multocida). Medium-to-large dogs can knock people down with the usual effects of falls from other causes.

A person bitten by an animal potentially carrying parvovirus or rabies virus should consult a medical doctor immediately. A bite victim may also incur serious bacterial infections of the bone called osteomyelitis which can become life threatening if untreated, whether or not the animal has parvovirus or rabies virus.

Diagnosis and Treatment

All dog bites should be cleaned and irrigated. Any associated injuries to nerves, blood vessels, tendons or bones should be repaired. Antibiotics are generally given to prevent an infection. With an infection antibiotics will either be given by mouth or intravenously (IV) depending on the extent of the infection.

The most common antibiotics used are cephelexin, clindamycin/cleocin and levofloxacin. Dog bites of the face are usually repaired with sutures immediately, all other dog bites may be left open to heal without sutures. ...

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