According to Medicine Net, there are at least 4.5 million dog bites in the United States every year. Approximately 90% of all animal bites that occur come from dogs. Fortunately, not all dog bites are serious enough to require medical attention. However, this means that the actual incidence may be much higher.
When a dog bite does require medical attention, doctors and patients alike have concerns regarding treatment. The doctor’s job is not to disregard the patient’s concerns but prioritize the most critical treatment.
A bite from a dog puts a patient at risk of contracting infections. According to Healthline, two of the greatest concerns are rabies and/or tetanus infection. While infections from dog bites, in general, can be dangerous, these are particularly serious diseases with high fatality rates and no known cure for either. Fortunately, it is possible to prevent an infection of either tetanus or rabies with vaccination. Each has an incubation period that can range from a few days to several weeks, so vaccination should take place quickly.
A dog bite that penetrates through the skin into the deep tissue can cause a loss of function. If not repaired, the damage can be permanent. For example, a dog bite can lacerate a tendon, which is the fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bone. A lacerated tendon can affect one’s ability to move a particular body part. Sometimes injuries to the deep tissues can be more serious than they appear on the surface of the skin.
Patients may want stitches to repair the wounds in the skin made by the dog’s teeth. This can improve the scar appearance after the wound heals. However, doctors may prefer not to repair the wounds with stitches because doing so increases the risk of infection. Doctors should inform patients of the risks and benefits of both treatment options.