Home Care

Immediately after a dog attack, home care should be administered to lower the chance of infection. Cleaning the wound out with soap and water and covering it within minutes of the dog bite can not only decrease the chance of infection, it can also help the wound heal more quickly and prevent pain and swelling. If the injury is not severe and the dog is current on all vaccinations, home care may be all that is needed to properly treat the dog bite.

Home Care to Prevent Infection

After a dog attack, the follow steps should be taken to treat the wound:

  • If blood flow is not excessive, allow the wound to bleed for a few minutes to help to clear bacteria
  • Clean the bite under running water with an antibacterial soap for a few minutes
  • Let the water run over the wound for about five more minutes
  • Pat the wound dry gently using a disposable fabric that will not leave lint, such as gauze
  • Disinfect the wound and the surrounding skin with Betadine or peroxide
  • Leave the disinfectant on until it air dries, then add antibiotic ointment carefully, so as not to disturb the wound
  • Bandage the wound and surrounding area

Home Care to Prevent Swelling and Pain

The wound must be cleaned thoroughly before the wound swells, as bacteria become more difficult to remove once swelling has set in. After all cleaning steps have been followed, applying ice or cold compresses may help to decrease swelling and ease pain. Over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory medications are also home care remedies that can assist with swelling and pain.

Continuing Home Care for Dog Bites

As part of home care, the wound should be uncovered and cleaned out thoroughly three times each day to continue preventing infection. Each time the dog bite is uncovered, it should be inspected thoroughly to determine healing, scarring, and any signs of complication. If the pain continues to be great, the patient may wish to continue administering ice to the area of injury or take pain medications.

When to Seek Medical Attention

When the dog bite occurs, if the wound is obviously severe the patient should be taken to a medical facility. This should also be the case if bleeding is difficult to stop after fifteen minutes or if it is unknown whether the dog is current on vaccinations. If there are signs of infection or discoloration after home care has been administered, or if the wound is not healing properly, the patient should also seek medical attention.




“Dog Bite Prevention.” American Veterinary Medical Association. American Veterinary Medical Association, n.d. Web. 17 Jan 2014. <https://www.avma.org/public/pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention.asp&xgt;.

“Dog Bites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Oct 2013. Web. 17 Jan 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dog-bites/index.html>.

Presutti, John. “Prevention and Treatment of Dog Bites.”American Family Physician. American Academy of Family Physicians, 15 Apr 2001. Web. 17 Jan 2014. <http://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0415/p1567.html>.