Dog Bite Infection

It is estimated that dog bite infection occurs in roughly 15-to-20 percent of dog bites. Dog bite infection is likely, as bacteria and other pathogens may be pushed deep into the victim’s tissue during a dog bite. Dog bite victims should ensure that their dog bite wounds receive sufficient care needed, either at home for minor wounds or in a medical facility for severe wounds. If left untreated dog bite infection can cause severe complications or death.

Infection Risk

It is a common misconception that a dog’s mouth is “cleaner” than a human’s, and therefore a dog’s saliva is not dangerous. Studies have shown that more than 130 types of disease-causing microbes were isolated from cat and dog bite wounds. In some cases, a bite may not even be necessary to transmit infection. An animal licking an open wound may be sufficient contact for an infection to develop.

Dog Bite Infection Risk Factors

Many experts believe that dog bite infection in the hands may be more common and dangerous, as the numerous bones, joints, and tendons in the hand cause a decrease in blood circulation. As a result, the body may have more difficulty fighting infection in the hands. Additionally, dog bite infection in the hand may cause complications such as septic arthritis or osteomyelitis.

Dog bite infection may be more likely in individuals who:

  • Are more than 50 years old
  • Have liver disease, circulatory problems, diabetes, alcoholism, or HIV/AIDS
  • Are taking long-term steroids or undergoing chemotherapy treatment
  • Have had an organ transplant or mastectomy
  • Have had their spleen removed

Dog Bite Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of a dog bite infection may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Malaise, or general feelings of illness
  • Redness and swelling
  • Warmth and pain around the bite wound
  • Leaking or oozing of pus

Dog Bite Infection Complications

Dog bite infection can result in severe complications such as sepsis and meningitis. In severe dog bite infection cases, patients may develop gangrene. During gangrene, blood flow to a large group of tissues is cut off. As a result, the tissue dies and rots. Patients with gangrene typically require amputation, or surgical removal, of the affected area or limb.


Sepsis is a blood condition that results from infection, such as a dog bite infection. When infection occurs, the body produces chemicals to fight the infection. Sepsis occurs from the body’s inflammatory response to these chemicals. Sepsis causes dangerously low blood pressure and eventually shock. If left untreated, death may occur.


Meningitis is the infection of meninges, or the outer layers of the brain and spinal cord. During meningitis, the meninges become inflamed, or swollen. This may cause brain and nerve damage. Septicaemia, or blood infection, may also occur from meningitis.




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