What Should I do When My Dog Has Been Bitten by Another Animal?

One of the best things about having a dog is the way they get you outside. It can be easy to spend too much time indoors these days, but when you have a dog you always have a good excuse to take walks through the city streets or down country roads. You make time for play dates in the park, or for a little trail running through the wilderness. But while spending time in the great outdoors can be a tremendous benefit to you and your dog’s health, it’s important to remain aware that other animals, wild and domesticated, are also out and about—and sometimes those animals may be inclined to bite your dog. It’s not particularly likely to happen, but one should be realistic about these things. A little preparedness can go a long way when it comes to protecting your dog from animal bites—and a little information can help you to avoid panicking if your dog is bitten.

Most animals your dog will meet outside, like other people’s dogs, are perfectly friendly. Others, such as neighborhood cats and wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits, and foxes, will want to get away from your dog. It’s not always easy to know what other animals will do, however—especially animals such as raccoons, which are prevalent in most parts of the country. So, the best way you can prevent the risk of your dog being bitten by unfamiliar animals is to always walk your dog on a leash. A leashed dog can’t run off to engage with animals that may or may not be aggressive.

Even if you do everything right, however, your dog might someday receive an animal bite. And most animal bites are rarely lethal—though if your dog is bitten by a snake, seek help immediately.

If your dog is bitten by a cat, dog, or member of an urban wildlife population, here’s what to do:
  • Stop the bleeding. Apply pressure to the wound with a clean washcloth or towel.
  • Go to the vet. Make an immediate appointment to see your primary veterinarian so he or she can look at the wound and prescribe care for it. They will definitely clean it, and will typically either prescribe antibiotics (if small) or a surgical drain (if large).
  • Home care. Usually, your vet will give you aftercare instructions for your dog. Continuing oral antibiotics until they’re finished, gently cleaning the wound, and monitoring your dog for signs of infection are common recommendations. You may also be required to restrict your dog’s activity level until the wound is healed.

Animal bites aren’t necessarily the worst injury your pet can sustain, but neither should they be taken lightly. Don’t assume you can treat even a small bite at home—animal mouths contain bacteria that can cause infection. It’s like the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” So, take your animal into the vet first thing if they are bitten. They will know if it’s something they can take care of easily, or whether you should seek out the care of a veterinary specialist near Philadelphia.

VRC is a veterinary hospital in Malvern, PA. If you suspect your dog has been bitten, or you see another animal bite your dog, contact your primary veterinarian to see if a visit to a specialist at VRC veterinary hospital is a good idea.