What can You do if You are Bitten by a Dog?

Getting bitten by a dog can be a scary situation. Make sure you get the proper care.

Before the Incident
Read about how you can prevent dog bites and how to keep your dog from biting.

During the Incident
If a dog does get its jaws around you, push back into the dog’s mouth, rather than pulling away. Though it may seem counterproductive, the dog will feel that he is no longer in control of the bite and should pull away and hopefully retreat.

When the Dog Bites

First Aid for Dog Bites

  • Use a clean, damp towel and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Elevating the injury above your heart can also help stop bleeding.
  • If possible, quickly get the owner and dog’s basic information. Some questions to ask:
    • The owner’s name and contact information
    • If the owner has liability insurance for their pet and if so, the name and contact information of the insurance agency
    • Is the dog up-to-date on its vaccinations (especially its rabies shots)? Ask to have medical records sent to you or your doctor to be sure.

Seek Medical Care

If the bite broke your skin and there is a puncture wound, seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will ask if the dog’s shots are up-to-date and if you have a preexisting condition that may magnify the effects of the bite (i.e. hemophilia, liver disease, diabetes). The doctor will clean the wound and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Depending on how severe and deep the bite is, the doctor may need to stitch the wound closed or you may need surgery to repair muscle or tendon damage.

Consider Compensation

Unless you trespassed onto the owner’s property or provoked the dog, you can often be awarded compensation as the victim of a dog bite. Possible compensation includes medical bills, property damage repairs, loss of wage, emotional damages, and other costs.

While some dogs that bite pose the threat of injuring others in the future, it is out of character for others to bite. Take into consideration why the dog may have bitten before taking action against the dog.

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*Pet owners in New York get a pro-rated refund.