Each year dogs bite about 4.5 million Americans – half of them children between the ages of five and nine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every five of those bites causes an injury that requires medical attention.
Often, victims of dog bites know the dog that attacked them. Children, mostly boys, up to the age of ten are commonly attacked at the head and neck because the child’s head is close to the level of a dog’s mouth. A dog bite can lead to different types of injuries, from a simple scratch to deep cuts, puncture wounds, crush injuries and worse.
Dog Bites and Kids: What to Do When It Occurs
If your child is bitten by an animal, it is important to quickly clean the wound with soap and water, and apply a clean towel or gauze to stop any bleeding. Seek treatment for further management to prevent complications such as infection. If infection occurs, it generally progresses rapidly, causing skin redness, warmth, fever, swelling and intense pain. Treatment usually involves taking antibiotics for a prescribed amount of time.
The rabies virus may be excreted in the saliva of infected dogs, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, a healthy dog that bites a person should be confined and observed daily for ten days. Any illness in the animal should be reported immediately to the local health department.
Karen Wagner, APRN, Renown Medical Group Pediatrics