Doggone It! Treating and Preventing Dog Bites

No matter how well-trained your pup is, they still have the capacity to be an unpredictable animal. None of this is said to scare you, more so to bring awareness to an entirely preventable situation. While April is Dog Bite Awareness Month, we at Cloud Peak Vet think it is crucial for any dog owner to always be prepared, if worse comes to worse. While it may seem as though there is no hope to train your pup, keep in mind that there are no untrainable dogs, just incompatible ones. Just like people, dogs have specific personalities that do not mesh with everyone, and that could include their owner. When pets are upset or frustrated, they can respond with aggression, especially if they have not been taught to express that feeling outside their teeth. We will come back to this concept later in the article, so skip down to “Training Your Dog to Keep Their Teeth to Themselves” to read more about it. For now, let’s discuss what you need to keep in mind if you get bitten by a dog. 

If you have any immediate questions or concerns about a dog bite, call Cloud Peak Vet for answers. Call us at (307) 347-2781, or come by the clinic for answers and peace of mind; do not hesitate!

Got Bit?

It does not matter if you got viciously attacked by a feral dog or if little Bella nipped you while you were playing – a dog bite needs to be looked at by a medical professional. You may not be able to get care right away, but we suggest you get your doctor’s opinion within eight hours of the bite, to ensure there will be no future complications. As mentioned in our other articles, dogs use their mouths for virtually everything. This means that the dog that bit you could have bacteria from under your porch, their own feces, or anything they can get a hold of. All that unwanted bacteria could lead to infection, which is why you will want to see a doctor. The wound itself can heal and be treated, but the major source of complications and issues from dog bites stems from the bacterial infection. Before you run out to the hospital though, you’ll want to follow a few steps to slow down or prevent infection. These steps are: 

  1. Clean the wound as soon as possible. Using warm water and soap, thoroughly rinse and clean the bite site, and then pat it fully dry. If you notice any bleeding, use a clean cloth to slow it. 
  1. Evaluate your wound. With it fully clean, you will be able to better assess your wound and the possible damage. Take note if you notice anything unusual.
  1. Apply an antibiotic cream. Antibiotic creams are not a cure, but they will slow down infection and the associated symptoms. With the area disinfected already, the cream will continue to prevent infection until you seek medical help. 
  1. Wrap the wound. This step continues down the path of infection prevention, as a physical barrier to the outside world will keep the area cleaner for longer. Use a sterile bandage or a clean cloth to create this barrier. 
  1. Seek medical advice. Listen to what your doctor recommends as each situation requires a specific treatment plan. Follow the medical advice your doctor gives you, and you will be sure to heal properly and quickly. 

One of the best ways to prevent dog bites is to keep your distance from unknown dogs and properly train your pup. You do not have control over a random dog’s training, so avoid situations where you will have to interact with them. Beyond that, the best thing for you to do is to solidify your own dog’s training to prevent your dog from biting you or other people.

Train Your Dog to Keep Their Teeth to Themselves

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It is a completely normal behavior for a dog to naw and to play bite, especially as puppies. Biting is an important part of a puppy’s development, but humans are not chew toys. It is very important to teach your dog how to control their bite so that when they are in pain, are fearful, or stressed, they’ll have the skills to refrain from biting. Part of that is reframing how they play and their understanding of the “social cues” they are being given. For example, when dogs play, they will yip or yelp to let the other know that it went too far. This is a technique that you can try on your dog, but do not be discouraged if it does not work. When your dog is playing too rough, make a high-pitched noise when they bite you, so that they know that the biting is what caused you harm. If your dog gets more excited by your yelps, simply turn your back on them. Remove yourself from the situation so they know that biting, and any other behaviors you are trying to correct, is not acceptable. If you give them attention right after they bite, negative or positive, they may think you are encouraging that behavior. When your dog has calmed down, reward them so they know that calming down and not biting is the acceptable behavior.

We know how hard it is to not get mad at your dog, but your negative reaction is actually a sort of reward for them. Dogs do not understand our full sentences, so regardless of the words you say, a raised voice is reminiscent of barking, encouraging your pup. Instead, teach your dog that biting means that all play and interactions are over and they need to calm down before you, or any other dogs, re-engage. 
For more information about behavior reinforcement and how it affects your dog, visit this website!

As a Pet Owner…

Be aware of your dog and the dogs they interact with, whether it is regular or occasional interactions. When you take the time to learn your dog’s cues and body language, you will be better equipped to prevent dog bites. Train your dog to not bite to prevent harm to you, someone else, or another animal. The onus is on you, the pet owner, but our Cloud Peak team wants to support you and give you any guidance you want or need. If you have questions, concerns, or an emergency relating to dog bites, contact us at (307) 347-2781, and we will give you expert advice and actionable steps. If there is not an emergency, feel free to learn more about our team, clinic, and mission via our website. Stay safe out there!



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