What to Do After a Dog Bites You

Dogs have long been considered mankind’s best friend for their caring, companionship, and cuteness. However, they are also animals that can react unpredictably when scared or surprised. When that happens, dogs can go so far as to lash out and bite someone in their immediate vicinity.

What should you do after a dog bites you? The first concern as always is to take care of yourself and others by distancing yourself from the dog and by treating any wounds. But after that, depending on the severity of the injuries and the circumstances involved, you may want to consider your legal rights. Here’s our best advice on what to do in the aftermath of an animal bite.

Taking Care of Animal Bite Injuries

Dog barking in a vicious manner
Image via Flickr by State Farm | CC by 2.0


As hard as it may be, the most important thing you can do following an animal bit is to maintain your composure. Depending on the circumstances, the dog may remain a threat and you don’t want to suffer further injuries or see someone else get bitten. Hopefully, the dog’s owners will be on the scene and can get the canine under control. But you should look to put distance between yourself, the dog, and others in the vicinity, even if it means leaving the immediate area.

Then you should secure treatment for your injuries. The challenge with dog bites is that their teeth can tear the skin, leaving a wound in a jagged pattern that can make you susceptible to infection. Dog bites can introduce various types of harmful bacteria into the system. Wash the wound right away using a gentle soap and warm, not hot, water. Then apply a clean cloth and put pressure on the wound to slow or stop the bleeding.

Once you stop the bleeding, you will want to apply an antibiotic ointment, then apply a bandage.

When Should I See a Doctor?

As a general rule, you should see your doctor for follow-up care if the dog bite has broken the skin. It just makes sense to get checked out, given the serious risk of infection. You also must see your doctor if the dog that bites you is either a stray or wild animal, and you do not have access to its vaccination history.

In the immediate aftermath, if you are unable to stem the bleeding after 15 minutes or so of cleaning and pressure, you should proceed to either an urgent care center, your doctor, or the emergency room. Professional medical care may be needed to stabilize the wound.

If you are experiencing significant bleeding and/or have multiple wounds, call 911 for emergency help right away.

Documenting the Animal Bite

Because a dog bite can have long-standing consequences for your health and wallet, it’s important to gather as much information as you can on the scene. But never do anything that may jeopardize your wellbeing or your safety.

If the situation is stable, calmly ask the dog’s owner (assuming they are present) to exchange information as you would after a car accident. You need their name, address, phone number, and email address, if possible. The immediate purpose of doing this is not to signal legal action, but to be able to contact the owner for information about the dog’s vaccination history, particularly against rabies.

If there were any witnesses, try to get their contact information as well. Again, this is just a matter of being careful. Even if litigation doesn’t occur, you may still need to file an insurance claim, and the insurance company will want to know as much as they can about what happened.

If possible, take pictures of the bite from various angles. You also may want to consider keeping a journal or notes of some sort to track any side effects from the bite, such as pain and stiffness.

As your treatment unfolds, remember to keep copies of bills so you can track your medical expenses related to the bite, as well as other costs from the attack, such as time off of work or travel to doctor appointments.

How to Decide if You Need Legal Representation

Studies from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. One-fifth of those bites are serious enough to require medical attention, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates. Children tend to make up a larger percentage of dog bites and often suffer more serious injuries.

Getting fair compensation on your own is a challenge, as it involves dealing with insurance companies whose interests lie in limiting the amount of money they have to payout. Having an attorney who is well-versed in personal injury law and experienced in dog bite cases can level the playing field. It also shields you from the emotional aspects of having to advocate for yourself in a system that you may not fully understand.

Retaining a lawyer early on can also help strengthen your case, as counsel can help you gather the evidence and documentation you need to highlight the circumstances of your case, including information about the dog’s history and background.

Retaining legal representation will allow you to focus on recovery, rather than on the challenge of navigating an unfamiliar bureaucracy around claims.

Consult with the Personal Injury Attorneys at De Castroverde Law

Getting bitten by a dog is painful and alarming. Sometimes these situations happen by accident, but not always. If you think negligence was involved, you may be justified in seeking fair compensation for your emotional and physical injuries. The personal injury attorney team at De Castroverde Law in Las Vegas is ready to help evaluate your case. We’ll collect the facts and review the records and give you a clear-eyed assessment of the next steps.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in all types of personal injury cases, the most common of which involve car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, dangerous drug injuries, or medical malpractice. With more than 60 combined years of experience, we will stand by your side. Call us or contact us online today for a free consultation.