Dog bites are common. According to the CDC, about 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the U.S., with 900,000 resulting in infection. While many get bitten by a familiar or family dog, strays are part of this total. If you’ve been bitten by a stray dog, what should you do?

Our AFC Urgent Care Indian Trail team has some helpful answers, so keep reading!

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Bitten?

No matter if the dog that bit you is familiar or a stray, it’s important to tend to the bite wound right away to reduce your risk of bacterial infection. You also should assess the wound to determine the severity.

In some instances, you’ll be able to administer first aid to yourself by doing things like stopping the bleeding with a clean rag, washing the wound and putting on a sterile bandage. In other cases, you’ll need immediate medical treatment. There is a scale in which you can determine the severity of the dog bite you’ve sustained, and we’ve provided it below. If your bite is a level four or above, seek medical treatment right away.

Types of Dog Bites

  • Level 1: The dog’s teeth don’t touch the skin.
  • Level 2: The dog’s teeth touch, but do not break, the skin.
  • Level 3: There are one to four shallow puncture wounds in the skin.
  • Level 4: One to four punctures from a single bite. At least one puncture wound is deep.
  • Level 5: Multiple bites, including some deep puncture wounds. This level most typically results from a dog attack.

What Should I Do If I Encounter a Stray Dog?

While few dogs in the U.S. carry rabies, the percentage increases when you’re dealing with a stray. If you’ve been bitten by a stray dog, have your injuries examined and treated by a doctor, which may require a rabies shot. Should you deny getting medical treatment, you run the risk of developing rabies, which eventually manifests as acute encephalitis. This infects the peripheral nerves, progresses through the nervous system and may become fatal.

When you encounter a stray dog, it’s in your best interest to exercise caution, instead of approaching the dog. To reduce your risk of being bitten, keep the below-mentioned safety measures in mind.

Safety Measures When Encountering a Stray

  • Never approach an unfamiliar animal.
  • Never run away or make loud noises.
  • If the dog approaches you, let it sniff and smell you first. Stay still, quiet, and don’t look the animal directly in the eyes.
  • If the animal is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies, do not approach to pet.
  • If the dog knocks you down, curl into a ball and cover your ears and neck.
  • If you spot the stray animal at a distance and notice it behaving strangely, report it to animal control. You could be dealing with a dog infected with rabies.

Been bitten by a dog? Don’t hesitate to get the care you need by visiting our AFC Urgent Care Indian Trailteam today!