Dog Bites – Rhodes 2 Safety

bites

Dog Bites – Rhodes 2 Safety

Before you treat any type of bleed/wound, you should always go through the SEEP checklist, to ensure you take all the right steps in the correct order. Treating a bleed relies heavily on things like the application of pressure, and the positioning of the animal’s injured limb as bleeding will slow down it if has to go “uphill” against gravity, ie
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S=Sit or lie the dog down
(sit for a head or shoulder injury, lie down for a leg or paw injury with paw raised)
E=Elevate
(raise the wounded area above level of heart)
E=Examine
(see exactly what’s going on)
P=Pressure
(place pressure directly on the wound)
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BEFORE you try to help your dog, please remember that he is likely still to be very scared with adrenaline racing through his body and probably in a fair bit of pain.
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ALWAYS MUZZLE YOUR DOG before addressing his injuries or you may well wind up having to treat yourself  for a dog bite too!  If you haven’t already done so, its a good idea to get your dog used to accepting a muzzle BEFORE you need to  use one so that the muzzle itself does not ramp up the stress levels.  If you are unsure how to introduce your dog to a muzzle using positive reinforcement techniques, here’s a brilliant video to show you how http://rhodes-2-safety.co.uk/?p=1934
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Dog bites are usually classed either as puncture wounds, if the tooth has penetrated the skin, or as a laceration if the skin has been ripped or torn by the tooth
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Lacerations
Lacerations don’t usually bleed as much as say an incision, but the wound is likely to be dirty with bacteria deposited from the dogs teeth within in.  Therefore, work through your SEEP checklist as above then, after around 5 minutes of direct pressure on the wound, provided the bleeding is well controlled, we can commence cleaning the injury.
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It is important to clean the wound thoroughly either with warm water, saline (salt water solution), sterile wipes or a cleansing solution such as Hibiscrub if you have it.  Remember, if you are using Hibiscrub it is imperative to dilute the solution down until it only just has a tiny tinge of pink to it.  If the solution is too strong it will actively sting the wound and be uncomfortable for your dog.
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If, after a good clean, the wound does not appear too bad and the flesh has not actually be torn, merely keep an eye on the wound to make sure there is no sign of any infection (ie no oozing, weeping, bleeding, swelling or heat after a day or so)
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Grace, laceration, injury due to dog bite - remember to clean the wound thoroughly to prevent infection
Grazed Laceration following Dog Bite

So, once you’ve cleaned the wound and the bleeding has stopped, provided that the wound is not huge, gaping, or has flesh hanging off, you can leave the injury undressed.  You can use a natural remedy like Manuka honey applied to the wound to help it to heal (provided Rover doesn’t want to lick it off!)

It is unlikely, unless the bite is very serious, that the vet will stitch the wound.  Leaving the wound open is preferable so as not to trap any bacteria from the tooth within the wound, which may turn into an abscess later on.  Don’t be surprised if your vet chooses not to suture the injury even if it does look a little grizzly!

If the bleeding is quite serious and you find that blood seeps through your dressing, apply another pad directly on top of it. If, after dressing number 2 you are still not able to control the blood loss, apply a pressure bandage by wrapping the wound with several layers of gauze and then using vet wrap, an elastic bandage, duct tape, or masking tape over it to maintain pressure.  Remember not to wrap so tightly that you compromise the circulation to the limb.  If you notice that the limb beyond the pressure dressing is swelling up or beginning to feel colder than the other limbs, you MUST release the pressure ASAP.
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N.B.  If the wound is on the neck, near the windpipe or on the chest, remember not to bandage tightly as this would inhibit breathing.  Better to apply and maintain pressure by hand.
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If the blood loss is severe, slightly raise your pet’s back end to increase blood flow to the head.
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Keep your pet warm with a blanket if cold. If your pet is hot, cool down with cold compresses to the chest and abdomen.
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The picture below shows a serious laceration which did in fact need to be stitched due to its size and severity.  It also shows a drain which has been left in situ allowing any contaminants to drain from the wound rather than trapping the build up of infection beneath the skin.
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drain left in situ to a puncture wound and sutured laceration injury
Sutured Laceration AND drain left in situ following puncture wound
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Treat for shock by raising your pet’s back end as described in our blog on shock.
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Puncture Wounds
A puncture wound resulting from a dog’s tooth during a bite may look small in diameter but it might actually have caused injury to underlying structures and be very deep – possibly even puncturing a main artery/vein.
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Work through your SEEP check list as above, and if the puncture wound is deep, pack it before applying your pressure dressing.
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With BOTH of these injuries, it is important to get your dog to the vet.  Even if the wounds do not appear to be huge, it is imperative that they are cleaned thoroughly and examined by your vet.  Apart from the possible danger of damage to underlying tissues or structures, it is likely that your dog will require a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers too.
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With a serious bite, please remember to PHONE AHEAD of your arrival. To turn up unannounced may cause more delay if there is no vet on site at the time you arrive or if the clinic is shut. To phone ahead gives them the opportunity to meet you there and administer treatment immediately.

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