Being bitten by a dog is an unpleasant and frightening event. Unfortunately, this happens all the time, so much that most don’t think about seeking medical attention as a first thought after a bite or scratch. That is perfectly fine if you don’t show any concerning symptoms. The first symptom you may notice is swelling. So is swelling normal after a dog bite?

Swelling, redness, or pain that lasts more than 24 hours from an animal bite could be a sign of an infection that could lead to more serious complications. See a qualified medical professional as soon as possible to get the bite checked out if pus is draining from your wound.  Besides swelling, there can be other telltale signs that something isn’t right. Village Emergency Centers care about your well being. Here is some useful information to note when it’s time to seek medical help for a dog bite.

Infection Causing Bacteria in Wild Animals

People often start to see signs of infection when a bite introduces diseased organisms below the surface of the skin. This is due to the following being present inside the wound:

  • Pasteurella canis
  • Streptococci and S aureus
  • Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae
  • Capnocytophaga canimorsus
  • Eikenella corrodens
Illustrates Dog bite

Streptococci and S aureus are the most common organisms found in infected dog bites and they tend to be present in other skin infections as well. They are found 1 of 5 cases and the number can rise as much as half the cases of infected dog bite wounds in the United States. Knowing that these organisms may be living in your wound is enough reason to head to a doctor’s office. Lab tests will be able to determine if they are present in your skin. Appropriate treatment will be administered according to your diagnosis.

Signs of Infection

How can you tell if you have come in contact with one of the organisms listed above? 

Symptoms that may indicate an infection:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Leaking Pus /Other Fluid

Don’t wait it out if you experience any one of these symptoms. Take yourself or loved one to the nearest ER to seek immediate medical treatment as time will determine the severity of infection. It is important to note that we do not want the infection to spread to the bloodstream as it will be cumbersome to treat.The most common place to experience infection is on the hand or at a joint. Deep bites near joints can damage joints and bones leading to conditions like septic arthritis. It is always best to be safe than sorry especially when ailments like these can be life threatening.

Learn More:

What About Rabies?

Rabies are a number one concern when it comes to animal bites to wild animals. If rabies is goes untreated, it can lead to death. Tetanus is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system, thus making it a very serious condition. In order to prevent a tragedy from this infectious disease, a tetanus shot should be administered as emergency medicine if rabies is existent. Initial symptoms of rabies are the following:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness

As the disease advances, a rabid person may experience:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Confusion
  • Nervousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Increased salivation
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Fear of water
  • Paralysis

Risk Factors

Your bite can go from harmless to serious in the blink of an eye if you are not careful when it comes to taking care of it. Just because you may not be experiencing alarming symptoms right away doesn’t mean you won’t. You should wash your bite thoroughly and seek medical attention if:

  • The bite caused a deep wound
  • The bite caused a bone break or other damage
  • You have a weak immune system
A person holding their bandaged hand at an emergency room in Houston, TX

Treatment Process

After properly washing your wound with soap and water, you should cover it with a fresh clean bandage in order to keep the wound sterile. If your wound is deep, you should apply pressure with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. Once you are seen by a doctor, antibiotics may be prescribed. Treatment can last from 1 to 2 weeks, but it will vary according to the severity of your situation. Antibiotics may be prescribed orally or intravenously, depending on what will work best to clear the infection.

After Treatment

After properly treating your dog bite, you should start to feel better within 48 hours. If you don’t see improvement or if you see worsening symptoms please seek medical care as soon as possible. If treatment is going well, it is still important to follow up with your doctor to make sure the wound is healing properly. Doctors will inform you what next steps you should take to stay on the road to recovery.

Stop by our emergency room in Katy,Tx, if you are wondering is swelling normal after a dog bite. At Village Emergency Centers in Katy, we strive to provide you and your loved ones quality medical care. Our Katy Emergency Room is conveniently open 24 hours 7 days a week, and accepts walk-ins because we know emergencies are not events that can be planned. Get directions here to visit our location.