Preventing dog bites – What to do?

Deb D’Andrea


Tiki playingEach year 4.7 million dog bites are recorded in the United States, of that, 800,000 receive medical care with 83 percent of bites not resulting in any injury. The highest percentages of people who sustain injury are between five to nine years of age.

It is not true that if a dog has bitten someone, they must be put down. It all depends upon the circumstances. It is also not true that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than humans’ or a cats’ or any other mouth.

All mouths are filled with bacteria. More than 130 disease-causing microbes have been found in dog and cat mouths and can cause infection when breaking the skin. When pulling apart a dog fight, many are bit in the hands, an area with many bones, tendons and joints without much blood circulation to fight infection. It is important to have the wound area attended to as soon as possible to minimize the risk of infection.

Sometimes infections to the hand can lead to osteomyelities or septic arthritis. Other more significant types of infections from dog and cat bites are pasteurellosis, which can appear within two to 12 hours of the bite, and is accompanied by pain, reddening and swelling of the area, and can progress quickly, spreading throughout the body. If left untreated, there can be severe complications.

Other significant infections are streptococcal and staphylococcal, which have similar symptoms as pasteurellosis; and the fourth infection, while rare, is capnocytophaga. This can cause septicemia in individuals with compromised immune systems and individuals who have had their spleens removed are at a higher risk. Early symptoms may include nausea, headache, muscle aches and tiny reddened patches on the skin.

If you are bitten, first thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water, scrubbing and running water over the wound for several minutes, removing as much saliva as possible. Then wash with an antiseptic, iodine or other disinfectant after washing with soap and water.

Apply an antibiotic ointment, cover the wound and head off to your doctor if the wound is severe as your doctor may place you on antibiotics to prevent infection. If you know the dog, ask the people for the rabies information. Care and common sense can help prevent bites associated infections.

On May 4, May 11 and May 22, the Gilpin County Library will be offering various interactive workshops on Living with Wildlife, Kids Be Wild Wise and Wildlife Stories. Please call the Gilpin County Extension to register for these informative, kid- oriented sessions at 303-582-9106 . National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 19 to May 25 this year.

I want to make mention that the photograph I selected for this article is Tiki and a friend’s dog playing. This is not a dog fight, they were having a rip-roaring good time.

Till next time. Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz, provides mobile Canine Massage, PawQuatics, Canine Agility and Petz Nanny Services. Her home-made dog treats are sold at local stores, and 4TheLuvOfDogz K9Birthday Cakes are available directly from her. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or