Medical professional testing sample for dog bite infection

Staphylococcus aureus
Escherichia coli

These are just a few of the more than 300 potentially dangerous bacteria that can live in a dog’s mouth. When a dog bites, these microorganisms are transferred to the dog bite victim. If it’s a deep bite, the bacteria can enter the muscles, bones, or blood, causing an infection that can be difficult to fight.

Signs You May Have an Infection

Some of the signs that an infection might be setting in after a dog bite are:

  • Inflammation or swelling. The most common sign of an infection setting in from a dog bite is inflammation. This usually begins to occur from eight to 24 hours after the victim has been bitten by the dog.

  • Warm skin. An infection can cause the skin around the puncture wound to become warm to the touch.

  • Redness. The skin around the bite may become red as the infection develops. There may also be red streaks running up the arm or leg from the wound toward the center of the body.

  • Discharge. The victim may notice the wound oozing pus or a whitish discharge. The discharge is caused by an infection.

  • Fever. As the body tries to fight off infection, body temperature will rise. This will be noticed as the victim will develop a fever.

Dog bite infections can develop quickly. If left untreated, they can cause serious illness and even death.

Not Every Dog Bite Infection Is the Same

Some of the different types of dog bite infections include:

  • Pasteurellosis: Pasteurellosis is a common yet serious infection caused by the bacteria pasteurella. Almost all cats and dogs carry this bacterium in their mouths. The initial infection will appear two to twelve hours after the bite. The bite area will be painful, swollen, and red. If untreated, pasteurellosis can spread into muscle, tendons, and bones and cause permanent damage. Pasteurellosis is usually treated with high-dose penicillin.

  • MRSA, strep, and staph infections: Both streptococcus and staphylococcus infections are very common in dog bite victims. The initial signs include pain, redness, and swelling. If untreated, these infections can spread quickly. If these infections reach the blood, they can cause a type of blood poisoning called bacteremia, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called sepsis. MRSA is a staph infection that is resistant to antibiotic treatment.

  • E. coli infection: Escherichia coli is often associated with food poisoning. This bacterium naturally lives in the lower intestine of mammals, but when it gets into the blood, it can cause a serious infection.

  • Fusobacterium: Fusobacterium is another common bacterium. It may cause meningitis in dog bite victims.

  • Capnocytophaga: Capnocytophaga is a bacterium that lives on the teeth of dogs and cats. When transmitted to humans through a dog bite, Capnocytophaga can cause a dangerous infection. Thirty percent of patients who develop this infection die.

  • Cellulitis: Cellulitis is a skin infection, often caused by Staphylococcus. The infection can spread to the lymph nodes and blood stream and it can be fatal.

  • Rabies: Rabies is a virus that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. It causes swelling in the brain and results in death unless the person who was infected receives the series of rabies vaccination shots soon after being bitten.

Any dog bite infection can be serious, therefore it is important to contact a doctor as soon as possible for a treatment plan after a dog bite injury.

Treatment for Dog Bite Infections

The primary treatment plan for dog bite infections is antibiotics. Three of the most used types of antibiotics are:

  • Amoxicillin. This is the most frequently prescribed oral antibiotic for victims of dog bites. The treatment is generally prescribed for seven to fourteen days.

  • Penicillin. Penicillin is prescribed not only to treat an infected dog bite but to prevent an infection from developing as well. This is one of the strongest antibiotics prescribed. Like Amoxicillin, it is an oral antibiotic.

  • Doxycycline. Doxycycline is an oral antibiotic that is used to treat infections set on by dog bites. This type of antibiotic is generally used for people who are allergic or sensitive to penicillin-based antibiotics.

It is important to act quickly, before the dangerous consequences of a dog bite injury set in, and it is important to know that you may be entitled to compensation if you have been the victim of a dog bite attack. To learn more, please contact us any time—24/7—at 1-800-800-5678 or via this website.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.