What to Do After a Dog Bite and How to Report It

Dog bites are thankfully rare, but when they do happen it can be serious and even life-threatening. There’s no easy way to completely avoid a dog bite but the following tips may help you:

  • Be aware of the signs to look for when a dog is going to bite
  • Know what to do after the dog bite
  • Recognise the signs of an infected dog bite
  • Know when to report a dog bite to the police

Signs a dog is going to bite

Many believe that the typical signs of an angry dog is growling or barking. However, this is not necessarily the case and it is important to look out for other signs such as:

  • Direct eye contact, which for a dog is a direct threat
  • The dog’s tail being up, and perhaps wagging stiffly. Just because it’s wagging doesn’t mean it’s happy, this can also be a sign of aggression. Usually there will be a clear difference in the type of wag, as when a dog is happy the whole body is part of the wagging. When there is aggression, the dog is likely to be stiff, as is the wagging tail.
  • The dog trying to look bigger by having its legs apart and throwing its chest out, or having a rigid body posture
  • Low rumbling growl
  • Showing front teeth, this is seen as a direct intention to bite
  • Ears up or perked
  • Raised fur – this is known as having their hackles raised
  • Fear may also increase the likelihood of a dog biting, so signs such as a dog cowering or tucking its tail may be a warning sign

If you see a dog exhibiting any of these signs, it is likely it is going to bite and it is best to back away slowly.

What to do after a dog bite

  • To help prevent the spread of infection, clean the wound immediately by running warm water over it. Even if the skin has not been broken by the bite, this will help reduce swelling. Use the water to remove any dirt, hair or anything else from the wound. After a couple of minutes, dry your wound and apply a clean dressing or plaster.
  • If you are bleeding heavily, apply a clean and sterile dressing to the wound and apply pressure.
  • If you are in pain, take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
  • Whilst it’s not pleasant to think about, dogs may be diseased and may pass that disease on to you if they have bitten you. If you are unaware of the dog’s medical history, or if it has broken the skin, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible after any dog bite injuries. Don’t wait until the bite begins to show infection as this could make your injury much more serious.

FACT: Dog bites and scratches are responsible for 6,740 hospital admissions a year.

Signs a bite may be infected

For a full list of symptoms you can visit the NHS website, but signs of infection include:

  • Redness and swelling.
  • Warmth or pain radiating from the wound.
  • Sweats and chills, or a fever of 38C or above.
  • There may also be liquid or pus coming from the wound.

It is important to seek medical attention if you have any of these symptoms following a dog bite.

If a dog bite breaks the skin

Whether you are aware of a dog’s medical history or not, it is important to seek medical attention if a dog bite breaks the skin as animals tend to have a lot of bacteria in their mouths. This can cause infection if your skin is broken, and it is best to get the wound checked by a medical professional to avoid any doubt.

How and when to report a dog bite

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 certain dog breeds are illegal, this includes Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosa, Fila Braziliero and the Dogo Argentino. If you were bitten by one of these dogs, or a cross-breed of these dogs, then the owner has broken the law and it is important to report them to the police. In most situations this will result in the dog being euthanised so that it no longer poses a threat. If the dog is not covered under the Dangerous Dogs Act it may still be seized if it is deemed a danger to the public. Call 999 as soon as you are able to do so safely, they will have the facilities to come and remove the dog without further injuries.

If you have been injured by a dog bite and you would like to recover damages for your experience, then one of our legal advisors is here to help. Call us on the number at the top of your screen today, or fill in our enquiry form.


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