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What to do when a dog bites

Most dogs provide warning signs that tell people not to approach or touch them. However, for those in Indiana who do not have the option to leave, such as letter carriers, or those who do not understand dog body language, there is potential for a bite. 

According to The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, 99 percent of incidents either involve aggressive behavior without skin contact or contact without breaking the skin. In either of these cases, factors such as rambunctiousness or fearfulness may have caused the dog to snap at someone. However, it is essential for the dog to receive bite-inhibition training and learn control. If a person sustains a puncture wound or cut that does not penetrate deeper than half the length of the canine teeth, the dog may be rehabilitated by rigorous training, but the element of danger is not eliminated. 

Deeper puncture wounds indicate that the dog will probably bite again. Owners should understand that even with training, this dog must be kept away from people, and muzzled any time it is around anyone. This type of dog should never be around children. Law enforcement and animal control should be aware of the dangerous dog. Experts recommend that in the case of multiple bites or life-threatening injuries, the dog should be euthanized. 

When someone is bitten, Cesar's Way recommends that shallow scrapes and scratches from a bite may only need first aid at home. Generally, these should be cleaned with running water and hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, then covered with a topical antibiotic and a bandage. It is important to take all these steps, even for a minor bite, because bacteria from the dog's mouth can cause an infection.

Puncture wounds may bleed, but as long as there is no danger of too much blood loss and the injury is anywhere but the head or neck, bleeding is not a cause for worry. In fact, it carries the bacteria out of the wound. Once the bleeding has stopped, the victim should wash the bite under running water with mild soap. These wounds can be left unbandaged, and do not require further cleansing with hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol. If the bleeding does not stop after about five minutes, or if the bite was to the head or neck, a person should seek emergency medical attention.

If the bite comes from an unknown dog and there is no verification of rabies vaccination, a doctor will probably recommend rabies shots for the victim. Animal control and law enforcement should be notified any time a dog attacks.

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