What to Do if My Child Is Bitten by a Dog?

What should you do if your child's bitten by a dog? The first thing to do is to observe the severity of the injury and act accordingly.
What to Do if My Child Is Bitten by a Dog?

Last update: 29 January, 2022

Dogs are considered man’s best friend. However, they’re still animals, and at times, they can cause a scare or two. So, what actions should you take if your child’s bitten by a dog?

Dog bites can occur for many reasons. Although some strays or other unfamiliar dogs may bite, most often, people are bitten by a dog they know, such as a friend’s dog or their own pet.

Canines can make excellent family pets. In fact, most children love dogs, as they’re cute, cuddly, and friendly. Growing up with a dog can enrich children’s lives in many ways.

Certainly, little ones need constant and close supervision when they’re with dogs to avoid bites. For this reason, we want to take advantage of this article to let you know how to act if your child’s bitten by a dog.

What to do if your child’s bitten by a dog?

Unfortunately, children are the people who are most affected by dog bites and can represent up to 38% of the victims according to studies. This is due to the fact that little ones are more curious and their way of playing can be bothersome for animals.

If your child suffers a bite from a dog at home, you can provide first aid. Dog bites can cause infections that should be treated with antibiotics.

For proper home care, recommend the following tips.

  • Place a sterile towel or gauze over the wound to stop any bleeding.
  • Try to keep the injured area elevated.
  • Clean the wound carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply a sterile bandage to the affected area.
  • Have them take an antibiotic every day to prevent infection -consult the doctor for this.

Under no circumstances should you perform any violent act against the animal. In most cases, bites are accidents caused by the children’s own inexperience, so the dog’s behavior will be instinctive. Yelling or hitting the dog could only make the situation worse.

A baby sitting in the grass with a golden retriever.

When is it necessary to visit a doctor?

If your child is bitten by a dog, you should keep in mind that they need to visit a doctor depending on the severity of the injury. It’s also a good idea to visit a specialist in the following cases:

  • You don’t know the dog or if it’s had its rabies vaccination.
  • The wound is deep.
  • You’re unable to stop the bleeding.
  • There are signs of infection such as redness, swelling, heat, or pus.
  • The bite occurred in the child’s head, face, or neck.

The risk of the child contracting rabies when bitten by an unknown dog is very high, so when visiting the doctor, it’s important to have the respective vaccination. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals and can cause fever, nausea, headache, and vomiting in humans.

Once you go to the hospital, the doctor will examine the injury to see if the bite was deep enough to damage muscles, tendons, nerves, or bones.

Next, the doctor will thoroughly clean the wound to remove dirt or bacteria and remove dead tissue. In some cases, sutures will be used to close the dog bite wound.

However, this practice is controversial; the reason is that suturing the injury may reduce scarring, although it may also increase the risk of infection.

“Little ones need constant, close supervision when around dogs to avoid bites.”

Certainly, the care of dog bites in children is a matter of controversy. It’s best not to close puncture wounds and for wounds on the hands and feet to be treated by a surgical specialist.

A young girl snuggling a dog and a cat.

How can I prevent my child from being bitten by a dog?

To prevent an unpleasant incident from happening, we recommend that you follow the tips below:

  • When choosing a dog as a family pet, choose one with a good temperament.
  • Give your pet all vaccinations, especially the rabies vaccine.
  • Accompany your child when playing in the park or any outdoor area where there may be stray dogs.
  • Keep your child away from any unfamiliar dogs.
  • Never leave your young child alone with a dog, especially an unfamiliar one.
  • Get approval and consult with the owner before petting an unfamiliar dog.
  • Don’t allow your child to play with any dog that’s eating or feeding its puppies.
  • If a dog becomes aggressive, you shouldn’t yell or run away. Remaining calm, moving slowly, and not looking at the dog is essential; dogs may become frightened or upset if a child jumps or screams around them.
  • When touching a dog, you should pet it gently on the side or back and not hit it on the head.
  • Teach your children to be gentle when playing with dogs.
  • Train your dog to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come.
  • Reward both the child and the dog when they behave the way you want them to.

Finally, remember that the most important way to keep your child safe around a dog is supervision; proper monitoring means being ready to intervene immediately if necessary. Besides that, you can start teaching your little one some of the basic rules like the ones we’ve just mentioned.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.