Your dog’s interaction with other dogs can have unintentional consequences. Play fights get too rough, or one dog offends the other. Your dog may be bitten by another dog, and you need to know the proper way to attend to the injury. Give your dog the attention that’s going to be most helpful by learning what to look for and what you need to do. If you want simple and effective care at home, purchase a first-aid spray to give pet injures quick attention.
The best thing you can do is prevent the injury from every happening. There are a few skills you can pick up to keep your dog safe from bites. Prevention is mostly about staying aware.
New Places, New Experiences
You have to be careful when introducing your dog into a new social situation. If it’s your first time taking your dog to a place where there will be other dogs, such as a dog park, hiking trail, or a friend’s house, ease your dog into the experience and watch for signs that tell you your dog needs to be extracted from the situation. Be prepared to change plans if that’s what’s needed to keep your dog safe and comfortable.
Keep them on a short leash if you want control. Be aware that some places are dog friendly but require a leash at all times. For the sweet spots where dogs roam free, working up to cutting your dog loose is about how comfortable you are. If there are no hostile signs coming from your or the other dog(s), and you feel comfortable, take your dog off the leash, but keep a close eye.
Watching Body Language
You should always be keeping a close eye on your dog when they’re off leash and interacting with new dogs. If you watch, the body language of the dogs will let you know if the running around and barking is playful or aggressive.
So what does playfulness between two or more dogs look like? There will be play bowing, when the dog has its front paws stretched out and head is low, and their furry behind sticks up. It looks like a yoga stretch, but it’s actually an invitation to play.
On the other hand, a dog that looks stiff is not a good sign. Your dog may freeze in the face of a threat, or run back to you. If you keep a close eye and practice enough, it can become easy to identify when a brawl is coming, and you should interfere in a safe manner before any blood is shed.
You will have to act as soon as possible to take care of the bite properly. The first thing to do is get your dog out of the situation. Separate the dogs and ensure your dog is safe from further injury. Exchange information with the owner of the other dog when possible, and ask if their dog is up-to-date on their rabies vaccine.
When your dog is injured, they may act uncharacteristically and bite you when they normally wouldn’t. Be careful handling them from this point on to prevent further injury for anyone.
How Bad is the Injury?
Next, you must examine the injury. The severity of the wound relies on a variety of factors including where the injury took place. Small cuts on the nose and mouth heal quickly and shouldn’t cause too much concern. Besides that, however, all injuries should be checked by a veterinarian.
Beneath all the fur and skin, it’s difficult to tell how much damage is done. A bite can cause many issues under the skin that won’t be obvious until too late. Even the slightest punctured skin is at high risk of infection. Dog’s jaws are strong, and injures can develop even when the skin doesn’t break. Among a list of possible injures you won’t be able to see, tissue and muscle can be bruised, there may be nerve-damage, or your dog may be left vulnerable to the development of an abscess. Getting the injury checked by a vet early on will prevent small injuries from becoming serious.
There are several symptoms to look out for that tell you your dog needs immediate professional attention, including:
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Difficulty breathing
- Acting sluggish
- Whining and crying
It’s reassuring to know what to expect from a vet visit. When you submit your dog into the vet, the vet normally follows several steps to fully care for the bite. In most cases, your dog will return home on the same day, unless it is decided a 10 day quarantine is necessary for instances such as rabies. Your dog will leave the vet with the necessary treatments done and instructions for the care you’ll need to do at home.
For the wounds that cause the least concern, the vet will evaluate the wound to be sure your dog doesn’t require surgery. Especially for cases where the bite has created an open wound, the hair surrounding the injury may be cut, so the vet can take a better look and lessen the chances of further contamination. The vet will then disinfect the wound with an antibacterial solution. This is necessary for a bite wound especially because dog teeth carry bacteria that could cause more serious conditions such as an abscess. Once the area is disinfected, the vet will wash out the wound with saline. Your dog may be prescribed antibiotics to control infection and/or pain medication to make the healing process more comfortable for your pup.
Your dog may be suffering from something severe, such as an infection. It may require your dog to be put under anesthesia. Treatment will vary depending on what damage has been done. The vet may need to remove damaged tissue, and attach a drain to remove infection. The drain will stay with your dog for three to five days once the draining fluid has been reduced to a minimum. Stitches may be needed, and will be removed 10 to 14 days after the procedure.
The vet may suggest an X-ray or ultrasound to explore the possibility of broken bones, contusions, or damage to the chest cavity. Discovering any problems through this will lead to further operations to address the problem.
If your dog has gotten sutures, the affected region needs to be kept clean and dry. Your vet may prescribe a disinfectant cleaner to apply conservatively to the wound. If not, a soft washcloth and warm water should be effective in gently cleaning away any debris surrounding the area of the wound. If you have been told by your vet to clean the wound, work carefully as to not cause more pain for your dog. You are also at risk of your dog snapping at you out of fear and pain. Even with gentle dogs, a muzzle should be considered.
To prevent your dog’s interference with the healing, the injury may be covered with a bandage, or your dog may have to wear an E-collar. Keep your dog from licking or scratching the wound. Administer any antibiotics your vet prescribes as instructed. If there is a drain, you will need to clean away any drained substances regularly. All of this is to make sure your dog can heal as quickly and painlessly as possible.
So It Doesn’t Happen Again
After the attack and recuperation, you may see some behavioral issues from your dog. The dog may show fear and aggression in situations where they didn’t before, and may not want to interact with other dogs for awhile after the incident. It is not unusual for a dog to be fearful of the cause of the bite. If this behavior doesn’t improve with time, you should seek professional help that can get your dog back to the happy pup they were.
A necessary step in making sure your dog fully recovers and never experiences anything like it again is to identify what the cause of the bite was. If it was one of your other dogs that did the biting, do not increase anxiousness in your dog by reprimanding them harshly. In social settings with other dogs and people, stay vigilant and be ready to remove your dog from the situation if they look uncomfortable.
We don’t want this dog bite to change your pup and their chance to have fun. Be aware of your dog and their comfort in a situation, and give them full medical attention when it calls for it. With those two simple rules down, your dog will recover in no time. Your dog is lucky to have such a diligent owner.