How to Treat a Dog Bite

Pets make us happy, relieve our stress, lower our anxiety and help keep us active. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association’s annual survey, there are 75 million dogs in American homes.

With so many pets sharing our homes and neighborhoods, animal attacks have become more common. Dog bites are by far the most common type of attack. About 4.7 million people are the victims of dog bites each year, most of them children. Children ages five to nine account for 37% of all victims.

Dog bite incidents result in $483 million in damages per year. If you or your child are seriously injured from a dog bite, we can help you get the compensation that you’ll need in order to pay for medical treatment of your injuries and reconstructive surgery, if necessary. 

Before you do anything, though, make sure you and your loved ones are safe. The following steps should be the first things you do.

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7 Steps to Treating a Dog Bite

According to the Cleveland Clinic, these are the seven most important steps to take immediately after a dog has bitten you:

  1. Wash the wound. Using mild soap, run warm tap water over the wound for five to 10 minutes
  2. Slow the bleeding. Use a clean cloth
  3. Apply over-the counter antibiotic cream. Neosporin is a good option, stocked in most pharmacies
  4. Wrap the wound. Use a sterile bandage
  5. Keep the wound bandaged and see your doctor. If the wound requires immediate attention, call an ambulance or drive to an emergency room. Ambulance paramedics can begin treatment right away
  6. Change the bandage several times a day. As always, follow your doctor’s specific directions
  7. Watch for signs of infection. These may include redness, swelling, increased pain and fever. Infection is the biggest concern here. Roughly 50% of dog bites introduce bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, pasteurella and capnocytophaga

What Constitutes Owner Negligence?

Most states have laws that make dog owners strictly liable for all dog bites — which means that if a dog bites you, the dog’s owner is responsible. However, Pennsylvania requires the injured victim to show either that the dog was vicious, the dog’s owner was negligent or the dog’s owner was responsible for the bite or attack by violating the state’s leash law. 

In every state, a dog owner will be held responsible if he or she knew before the biting incident that his or her dog had a tendency to bite people without provocation. In Pennsylvania, the injured party must also show that the dog owner made some kind of mistake, such as:

  • Failing to keep a dog restrained
  • Failing to warn others of a dog’s known dangerous propensity or aggressive disposition
  • Failing to keep a dog known to be dangerous away from others

Are Dogs that Bite Euthanized?

If you are hesitating to take legal action over a dog bite for fear the dog will be put down, in most cases you can rest easy. Pennsylvania law allows animal control to assess the situation and make sure the dog is not a danger to others. If it has no history of aggression or violence, it will usually be returned to its owner. 

In rare cases, the dog will be euthanized. This action is only untaken if the dog is determined to be aggressive and have a high probability of biting another person.


When to Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

We typically do not handle “minor” dog bite cases. Our background is in catastrophic personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We use this experience to litigate cases on behalf of victims who have been severely injured or require extensive medical treatment, and for families who have lost loved ones due to fatal dog attacks.

We take on dog bite cases which result in severe injury — any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery. Injury victims can recover full compensation for all of the harm endured, including pain, suffering, disfigurement, anxiety, loss of income and future earning potential. 

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog bite attack, call the Thistle Law firm at 215-525-6824 or contact us here. Our experienced team will help you start your dog bite claim and work tirelessly to get the medical help and compensation that you deserve.


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