Should You Go to the Doctor After a Dog Bite?

If you were bitten by a dog, you should see a doctor right away. Dog bite injuries can be serious and, even when they appear minor, they can lead to infections and other complications if left untreated. This is especially true when you are bitten by a strange dog, as unknown animals can carry and transmit harmful diseases, such as rabies.

The sooner you seek medical attention, the better. In any case, most experts agree that you should see a doctor for moderate or severe dog bite injuries no more than eight hours after the attack.

How Are Dog Bites Classified?

Dog bite injuries are classified according to severity. While some bites barely break the skin, others can cause extensive bodily injury, organ damage, and may even be deadly.

The different levels of dog bite injuries are as follows:

  • Level One, No Contact: The dog snaps or bites the air (also known as a “warning bite”) but does not make contact with the skin
  • Level Two, Mild Injury: The dog’s teeth make contact with the skin, but there are no puncture wounds/broken skin
  • Level Three, Mild to Moderate Injury: The dog’s teeth break the skin, causing one to four relatively shallow puncture wounds
  • Level Four, Moderate to Severe Injury: The dog’s teeth break the skin, causing one to four puncture wounds from a single bite with at least one wound being deep
  • Level Five, Severe Injury: The dog bites multiple times, causing several deep puncture wounds and leading to significant soft tissue damage

If you were bitten by a dog and suffered damage to the skin, surrounding tissues, or underlying structures, you should see a medical professional right away for treatment.

First Aid for Dog Bite Injuries

Very mild dog bite injuries can be effectively treated at home with proper first aid. In some cases, it may be necessary to treat a dog bite at home before going to the doctor. When in doubt, always see a competent medical professional.

When to Call Your Doctor

In some cases, at-home care is not enough to properly treat a dog bite injury. This is especially true when a victim suffers level four or level five dog bite injuries (one or several bites resulting in deep puncture wounds). If there is profuse bleeding, the victim is unconscious, or any other signs of serious injury, call 911 right away.

You should also call your doctor for any dog bite injury resulting in:

  • Bleeding that cannot be stopped after 15 minutes of applying pressure
  • Broken skin/puncture wounds (even shallow wounds)
  • Broken bones or other non-puncture wound injuries
  • Infection (symptoms include redness, swelling, warmth, unpleasant odors, and pus)

Additionally, seek medical attention if you or a loved one was bitten by a strange or stray dog or if the victim is immunocompromised due to illness or past or current medical treatment. If the dog’s vaccination record is unknown, your doctor may recommend a rabies shot and/or a tetanus shot to prevent against potentially life-threatening illness.

Should You Call a Dog Bite Attorney?

If you were attacked or bitten by a dog in New Orleans or anywhere in Louisiana, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner.

You can reach out to our New Orleans dog bite lawyers at The Womac Law Firm for help with your claim. We can answer your questions free of charge during an initial consultation, and we do not collect any attorneys’ fees unless we win your case.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your dog bite injury claim!

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