Dog Bite Infection Guide

dog bite infection

Domesticated dogs are often friendly, but even the sweetest dog can become aggressive under certain circumstances. It’s not uncommon for approachable and seemingly harmless dogs to lash out unexpectedly, causing serious harm to victims.  

If you just suffered a dog bite, it’s important to seek medical attention. The dog bite alone can cause serious bleeding or even fractures, and you may also suffer from an infection. 

dog bite infection

While not all dog bites are infectious, a bite that leaves an open wound may lead to a serious infection that requires painful and costly treatments. 

It can be tough to detect when a dog bite is infected or may become infected. When in doubt, it’s in your best interest to see a doctor. 

We’re here to answer common questions regarding dog bites, including how to tell if a dog bite is infected. We’ll also discuss the severity of dog bite injuries, types of dog bite infections, and how to take preventative measures to avoid infection. 

How Serious Are Dog Bite Wounds?

dog bite infection

Dog bites can range anywhere from minor to fatal. A gentle bite may not even pierce the skin and require treatment, yet a serious attack can kill a faultless victim who was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dogs kill 30,000 people a year worldwide, and most of those deaths happen because of infections, especially rabies. Fortunately, rabies is incredibly rare in the United States, with only 1 to 3 cases being reported in humans per year.

That said, a dog bite can cause other types of infections that can result in serious harm, so it’s critical to seek medical attention if you’ve suffered an attack.

What Does an Infected Dog Bite Look Like?

Dogs transmit infections through their saliva. The bacteria from the saliva enter your body through the open wound, potentially causing sepsis, tetanus, or another infection. Additionally, you may develop an infection if you leave an open wound untreated, regardless of whether it’s from a dog bite or another source.

Some dog bite infection symptoms will depend on the type of infection, but you can be on the lookout for indications that your wound is infected in general.

Here are some signs that you may have a dog bite infection:

  • Swelling
  • Warmth or redness around the wound
  • A lump or hardness develops underneath your skin 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain lasting more than 24 hours
  • Muscle tremors
  • Tenderness near the wound
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Your wound oozes pus or fluid
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness in the area of the wound

In addition to these dog bite infection symptoms, you should monitor whether you develop signs that your infection has spread.

These symptoms include: 

  • Shaking 
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Unusual sweating at night
  • Trouble breathing

You may require emergency medical attention if you have any of these symptoms, and you must seek treatment if you suspect your infection has spread to other areas of the body. 

Types of Dog Bite Infections

Every year, thousands of people contract serious infections from dog bites.

Here are the types of dog bite infections and their symptoms: 

  • Tetanus: Jaw cramping, muscle spasms and stiffness, and trouble swallowing.
  • Sepsis: Confusion, abnormal sleepiness, high or low temperature, and serious pain. 
  • Capnocytophaga: Redness, blistering, swelling, pain, headaches, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and oozing.
  • Staph or Strep: Fever, oozing, blisters, boils, and swelling in the joints.
  • Rabies: Nausea, hyperactivity, vomiting, anxiety, paralysis, hallucinations, insomnia, and fear of water. 
  • Cellulitis: Redness, oozing, tenderness, and swelling. 

The infection can progress if left untreated and cause serious problems, like urinary tract infections, pneumonia, numbness, tingling, weakness, meningitis, blood infection, eye infections, and more.

Avoiding a Dog Bite Infection

If you suffer from a deep dog bite wound, you should apply firm pressure to your injury with a dry and clean cloth to stop the bleeding. You should also call 911 to receive emergency medical attention. 

In the event you suffer from a minor bite that pierces the skin but isn’t deep, you should still visit a doctor, but receiving immediate medical attention isn’t as critical.

It’s best to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, but you can also take preventative measures to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection:

  • Thoroughly clean the bite area with warm water and soap.
  • Continue running lukewarm water over the wound to eliminate bacteria.
  • Rub antibiotic cream on the wound.
  • Cover the wound in a clean bandage.  

Contact a Dog Bite Infection Attorney

A dog bite infection can lead to serious complications that require extensive medical treatment, including heart attack and kidney failure. If you suffered from a dog attack due to a negligent owner or another party, you can file a claim against them to recover money for medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, and other damages. 

Here at Poynter & Bucheri Attorneys at Law, our Indianapolis dog bite attorneys have considerable experience assisting dog bite injury victims, and we can help you recover the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. You can schedule a free case review with us today online or by calling our office at 1-800-265-9881.