Dog Bite Stitches

A dog bite can cause punctures, lacerations, and other types of injuries. After the bite has been cleaned out, it is necessary to examine the wound and determine whether medical treatment will be needed to help close it. In the case of lacerations or tearing of the skin, stitches may be required to help heal the dog bite.

Waiting for Dog Bite Stitches

When the physician determines that dog bite stitches are necessary in order to heal the wound, the physician must make a decision to wait or administer the stitches immediately. Dog bites have a high risk of infection, and that risk is increased if the stitches are administered immediately. In cases where not stitching the wound immediately can result in continued blood loss or other complications, the physician may decide that the benefits of immediately stitching the wound outweigh the risks.

Face and Neck Dog Bite Stitches

If the dog attack injury is on the face, physicians will often give the patient dog bite stitches right away. Wounds to the face and neck are less prone to infection, as the blood flow is greater than to other areas of the body. Due to the greater blood flow, immediately administering dog bite stitches to the face and neck can cause the wounds to heal faster and minimize scarring.

Risk of Infection

The following factors can increase the risk of infection when stitching a dog bite wound:

  • Weakened immune system of the patient
  • Injuries in which the bones have been crushed
  • Bites on the hands
  • Puncture wounds, especially if very deep
  • Teeth or other debris in wounds
  • Wounds that have not been cleaned properly, especially if swelling is present

Dog Bite Stitches Process

Physicians typically follow a procedure for cases in which the stitches must be administered after a waiting period. The wounds will be examined thoroughly using x-rays to ensure that there are not broken bones or debris in the wound. The patient may be put under anesthesia to conduct a more thorough physical examination and remove dead skin.

Dog Bite Stitches Procedure

After the examination, the wound will be cleaned thoroughly with a saline solution and disinfectant, and then dressed. The wound will be uncovered, cleaned, and inspected three times a day for about 72 hours. Once the 72 hour waiting period has passed, if no signs of infection appear, the stitches will be administered. Depending on the risks involved and the area that was bitten, the physician may wish to examine the dog bite stitches and the wound periodically, and antibiotics may be administered as well.

 

 

Sources:

“Animal Bites.” Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 31 Oct 2013. Web. 18 Jan 2014. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000034.htm>.

Baddour, Larry, and Erin Endom. “Patient Information: Animal Bites (Beyond the Basics) .” Up To Date. Wolters Kluwer Health, 05 Aug 2013. Web. 18 Jan 2014. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/animal-bites-beyond-the-basics>.

“Dog Bites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Sep 2013. Web. 18 Jan 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dog-bites/index.html>.