HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Dog bitesDog bites tear open some serious issues. They can cause scars, infections, even rabies
Even dog bites that don’t look serious should be taken seriously. Bacteria, such as pasteurella multocida, is present in many dogs’ — and cats’ — mouths and can cause serious complications, such as infections and joint damage in humans.
By: Ann Bailey, Grand Forks Herald
Even dog bites that don’t look serious should be taken seriously.
Bacteria, such as pasteurella multocida, is present in many dogs’ — and cats’ — mouths and can cause serious complications, such as infections and joint damage in humans.
“You should pay very strict attention to animal bites,” said Dr. Judson Crow, a RiverView Health Systems plastic surgeon who has worked on patients whose flesh has been torn by bites. Besides tearing, dog bites also can cause puncture wounds, he noted.
Although Crow doesn’t perform surgery on many bite cases any longer, in the earlier days of his practice it was fairly frequent. In some cases the surgery was performed almost immediately after the patient was bitten and in others it was performed several days after the person was wounded so another foreign object wasn’t introduced, Crow noted.
But regardless of whether plastic surgery is needed, if the puncture wound is deep or the skin is badly torn or bleeding, pressure should be applied to the site and the person should be seen by a physician, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site. Crow recommends that bites that any bite that breaks the flesh or punctures the skin, should be examined by a physician.
The bacteria in the animal’s mouth can cause infection and may require antibiotics. Meanwhile, if the bite is on or a near a joint, X-rays may be required to make sure the joint isn’t infected, Crow said.
Rabies, of course, is the major concern and if the animal hasn’t received its vaccination, shots will be required.
If there are no rabies concerns and the wound is minor, it should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and an antibiotic cream should be applied, the Mayo Clinic Web site said. The wound should be covered with a clean bandage.
Wounds that show any sign of infection, such as swelling or redness or that have increased pain or oozing, should be seen by a physician, the Web site said. Physicians may recommend a tetanus booster if the wound is deep or dirty or if the bite victim’s last tetanus shot was more than five years ago, according to the Web site.
Bailey writes for special features sections. Reach her at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.