Childhood dog bites: Treating them on the scene

Firm News On Thursday, October 19, 2017

Your child was playing in the yard when your neighbor’s dog started to walk toward him. You were familiar with the dog, so you didn’t go out of your way to protect your child from it. As your child was playing with the pet, he began to get a little rough, as toddlers do. Unfortunately, he did something the dog didn’t like, and, after your toddler, understandably, missed the warning signs, the dog bit him.

This is a common occurrence in the United States. Many people have family pets, or familiar pets, who cause trouble because people miss the signs of aggression, sickness or other issues. Dogs bite over four million people yearly, with children suffering some of the most severe injuries.

When a dog bites a child, the wounds are immediately more serious than for adults. Why? The child has a smaller body, which means there’s a higher likelihood of damage to the ligaments, bones, and organs. What might be a relatively small bite to an adult could impact your child’s entire arm or face.

What should you do if your child is bitten by a dog?

The first thing to do is to make sure the dog isn’t able to continue attacking. It’s no help to try to treat your child’s injuries if the dog is still a threat. Once it’s restrained or chased off, focus on controlling the bleeding from the wound. Elevate the injury, so the blood flow lessens.

If the injury is severe, call 911 for medical help. If not, compress the injury with a washcloth or sterile bandage after washing it carefully with soap and water. Rinse the blood away for a few minutes to reduce the risk of infection from remaining bacteria.

Finally, cover the wound and seek medical attention. Children have smaller bodies and can lose less blood than adults, so quick medical treatment is always advisable.

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