What should I do if I’m bitten by a dog?

California dog owners must keep their pets under control at all times. Failure to do so can result in significant injury if a dog lashes out at an unsuspecting victim, especially if the dog is overly aggressive. If you’ve been bitten by a dog it’s important to know what steps to take to ensure your injury doesn’t become even more severe.

According to WebMD.com, one out of five of the 4.7 million Americans bitten by dogs on a yearly basis requires a visit to a hospital or clinic. In most cases dog bites involve dogs you are already familiar with, such as those of friends or relatives, as well as your own. Children aged five through nine are the most susceptible to dog bites, and also have a higher incidence of injury.

If bitten by a dog, having the injury assessed by a doctor is usually recommended. You will be asked a number of questions about your injury, including whether you are familiar with the dog that bit you. If so, you’ll be asked about the dog’s vaccinations (such as rabies), whether the animal was provoked when it attacked and how healthy you currently are. Dog bites can easily lead to infection, especially if your health is already compromised by a chronic condition like diabetes.

In terms of first aid you can perform at home, be sure to clean the wound gently using soap and warm water. Once the wound has been cleaned, apply a sterile bandage to the area. You can also use antibiotic cream regularly as the wound heals to stem any possible infection. If the wound is bleeding profusely, emergency medical attention must be sought.