More than 4.5 million people report being bitten by a dog each year in the United States. More than 800,000 of these cases require medical attention at emergency rooms and urgent care centers. Any dog can bite—big or small, male or female, sick or healthy, young or old. Fortunately, most incidents are preventable. Follow these animal bite prevention tips and learn what to do if you get bitten.
How Pet Owners Can Prevent Animal Bites
As a responsible pet owner, you can do a lot to help avoid dog bites. Here are some ideas:
- Socialize your dog from a young age to help them feel at ease in different situations. Introducing your puppy to other dogs and people helps them become a less skittish adult.
- Consider obedience training to teach your dog submissive behaviors, such as giving up food without growling.
- Walk your dog regularly for physical exercise, good mental health, and the chance to interact safely with strangers.
- Always keep your dog on a leash when in public spaces.
- Give your dog plenty of love and attention.
- Avoid wrestling, tug-of-war, and other aggressive games.
- Treat your dog’s injuries or illnesses promptly.
- Avoid situations that make your dog feel threatened.
- Spay or neuter your pet to reduce aggressive tendencies.
How to Avoid Getting Bitten
If you come across a dog out in public, follow these tips:
- Ask the owner if you can pet their dog. Let the animal sniff you first.
- Never provoke a dog by poking, pinching, or pulling its ears.
- Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog without the owner nearby.
- Never reach over or through a fence to pet a dog.
- Don’t run from an aggressive dog. Their instinct is to chase and catch.
- Place something between you and the aggressive dog, such as a backpack or jacket.
- Avoid eye contact and remain motionless until the dog leaves. Then, back away slowly.
What to Do if You’ve Been Bitten
Infection is the biggest concern with an animal bite. To reduce your risk, follow these tips immediately after being bitten:
- Wash the wound with mild soap and water.
- Apply antibiotic cream.
- Wrap the wound with a sterile bandage.
- Keep the injury covered, and change the bandage several times a day.
If you see signs of infection—including redness, swelling, oozing, increased pain, or fever—seek animal bite treatment from a medical professional. You should also seek care immediately if the bite is deep and badly torn or if you suspect the animal may have rabies.
If you require animal bite treatment, visit Total Point Urgent Care right away. We accept walk-ins for non-life-threatening animal bites, offering urgent care services such as stitches, blood tests, X-rays, and antibiotics. Our 12 locations across Texas and Arizona serve as a cost-effective alternative to the emergency room. Stop by today or contact us online with any questions you have.