Is My Dog Bite Infected?

If a dog pierces your skin, bacteria causing infections from the dog’s mouth tend to penetrate your body leading to contamination. However, cleaning the wound can help eradicate the bacteria, thus, reducing the rate of infections such as sepsis, rabies, and tetanus.

How to tell if a dog bite is infected

An aggressive dog can tend to bite when provoked by anybody. Alternatively, you might be playing with your pet, and it ends up biting or scratching your skin. At other times, you might be walking on the streets, and a street dog attacks you from nowhere.

In any scenario that involves dog bites, you must seek medical attention on the same day to avoid the risk of infection. According to medical experts, a dog bite can result in severe infectious diseases such as rabies.

Furthermore, diabetic and immune-compromised patients tend to be at a higher risk of getting infected. Hence, they should seek medical attention within 12 hours after the incident.

Dog bites contain bacteria such as Pasteurella, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Capnocytophaga. However, a dog that is yet to be vaccinated can carry rabies that can result in the death of the patient if not treated early.

Symptoms of an infected dog bite are:

  • More than 24-hour pain
  • Discharge from the affected area
  • Redness and swelling around the affected area
  • Warmness around the affected area
  • Unable to move the affected body part

High fever, shaking, and night sweats are signs that the infection has spread to other body parts.

Types of dog bites

Dog bites are classified depending on the rigorousness

  1. The dog’s teeth are not exposed to the skin
  2. The dog’s teeth come into contact with the skin but do not penetrate
  3. The patient’s skin gets three to four puncture wounds
  4. The patient’s skin gets three to four puncture wounds, but one has an intense cut
  5. The patient receives multiple deep wound bites.

Things to check once you encounter a dog bite

Every kind of dog bite tends to be dangerous and worrying. Whenever you experience a dog bite, ensure that you check whether your arm or leg is moving okay, depending on where the wound is.

Check whether all nerves around are okay, by checking if you feel anything. Lastly, check whether the blood is flowing systematically, making sure that there are no damaged vessels.

How to manage dog bites

What happens when you cut your arm using a knife? Many of us clean the cut place with clean running water and disinfect the wound later. The same should always apply to dog bites since they contain more germs compared to human microbes.

Therefore, once you encounter a dog bite, ensure that you clean the wound first using warm running water for a period of ten minutes.

After that, use a clean cloth to slow down the bleeding rate. If you have an antibiotic cream, apply it over the clean cloth. Using a sterile bandage, wrap up the infected wound and run to see the doctor.

If you feel that you can faint along the way, you can call for help using 911 or seek advice from neighbors. Remember to change the bandage daily and to check on signs of swelling, fever, redness, and pain.

How to treat the infected wound

Always seek medical help if you have a profound wound, weak immune system, or the bite resulted in bone damage. Other reasons to seek medical advice include the presence of signs of infections, failure to recall the last time you took a tetanus injection, and unfamiliarity with the dog.

Be prepared to answer questions such as details of the dog, did you provoke the dog or it was an accident, and your health conditions. Health condition is an essential detail since people with liver disease and diabetic people tend to have a low immunity level that may increase the risk of a severe infection.

The medic will inspect the wound to identify if the injury is deep enough to harm tendons, bones, nerves, and muscles. Later, the doctor will clean the wound using disinfectants to eradicate bacteria, dead tissue cells, and dirt.

Depending on the location of the wound, the doctor will decide to suture the injury. However, this method tends to upsurge the threat of infection. Thus, if the wound is not in a much open place, you can opt not to use this practice.

If the health of the dog is unknown, then the doctor must take preventive measures and inject you with the rabies vaccine. Furthermore, you will have to check in with the doctor for a tetanus injection.

To treat the infected area, you will have to take antibiotics for the one or two weeks or according to doctor’s prescription


If a dog that is infected bites you, you will suffer from the same infection. Rabies has a very high fatality rate; therefore, you should always seek medical assistance as fast as possible. Thanks to tech, you can get a post-exposure vaccine that helps in treating the infection.

Symptoms of rabies include:

  • Weakness
  • Pricking or itchy feeling around the wound
  • Headache
  • Fever


Tetanus infection is a very vital infection that can damage your body.
The symptoms include:

  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Cramping in the jaw


Sepsis comes as a result of an untreated dog bite and can be fatal. Always seek medical assistance if you suspect that you have sepsis.
Symptoms of sepsis include:

  • Low or high fever
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Discomfort and severe pain
  • Daytime sleepiness


Symptoms appear within the first two weeks after a dog bite. If not treated, one can be exposed to kidney failure, gangrene, and heart attack.

Symptoms of Capnocytophaga include:

  • Swelling and redness around the injured part
  • Fever
  • Discharge from the wound
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain

However, some factors can increase the chances of infection; they include

  • Drinking alcohol excessively
  • Lacking a spleen
  • If you are undergoing chemotherapy
  • Health conditions that lower the body immunity

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