Following a dog bite, you may reassure the owner that everything is fine, and you may believe that, too. However, if the dog broke skin, you should not just brush off the incident as an innocent mistake that will heal with a good rinse with soap and water, a topical ointment and time. Though you should not panic either, you should seek medical attention right away.
As MedicalNewsToday warns, infections are common with dog bites. This is particularly true with bites that occur on the hands and feet. Without treatment, those infections can result in severe, and possibly life-threatening, consequences.
Symptoms of infection
According to the publication, washing a dog bite wound thoroughly immediately after the incident can help remove bacteria and reduce the risk of infection. However, it does encourage dog bite victims to monitor themselves for infection in the days following the incident. Signs you should be on the lookout for include the following:
- Pain that persists for more than 24 hours after the initial incident
- Pus that drains from the wound
- Redness and swelling around the wound
- Warmth around the wound
- Difficulty moving the affected part of the body
Signs that the infection has already spread past the site of the wound and to other parts of the body include night sweats, fever and shaking.
Common complications of dog bite infections
Once infection spreads, the risk of developing complications increases exponentially. One of the most common complications of dog bites is Capnocytophaga. Symptoms of Capnocytophaga infection include fever, vomiting and diarrhea, joint pain, headaches, oozing from the wound and blistering around the wound. If left untreated, Capnocytophaga can result in gangrene, heart attack and kidney failure.
Tetanus is another serious complication of dog bites. Dogs carry tetanus and can pass the bacteria to humans and other animals through saliva. Symptoms of tetanus include muscle spasms (typically in the stomach), muscle stiffness, cramping of the jaw and difficulty swallowing.
Though rare, rabies can occur following a dog bite. Rabies can be fatal if not treated right away, which is why you want to be able to identify the early symptoms of the disease. Those include fever, headache and flu-like symptoms; prickling or itching around the bite; and weakness.
Finally, sepsis can occur following a dog bite. Sepsis triggers confusion, extreme body temperatures, severe pain or discomfort, and extreme daytime fatigue. Like rabies, sepsis can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Though you may not want to take legal action following a dog bite, the complications and associated ramifications may force you to. An attorney can help you prepare your case, just in case.