What you need to know about Bite wounds: When dogs attack each other

Bite Wounds

 

Nothing probably is more frightening than seeing your dog being attacked by another dog. Not only is the scene emotionally disturbing , you fear for the dog’s life.  What provokes dog bites? What do you need to worry about regarding the wounds? Can you help prevent dog bites?

Anatomy of a Bite Wound

To understand bite wounds lets first look at the anatomy of a bite wound.  The reason bite wounds are so concerning are because the amount of potential damage they can cause. Here are examples of what bite wounds can do.  Disruption of blood supply to the skin – Often bite wounds involve biting and shaking of the skin. When this occurs, the blood vessels supplying the skin can often become disrupted which can cause the associated skin to die. The challenge with this is that this may not become evident until a couple of days after the injury occurs. Infection – Since bite wounds involves teeth piercing skin, this often leads to the introduction of bacteria deep into tissue that can fester and become serious. Bleeding – Another danger with bite wounds are that they can cause damage to the blood vessels that can lead to large amount of bleeding. This can sometimes lead to death.  Inflammation – As you can imagine there is a significant amount of trauma to skin from the teeth due to bite wounds. This can lead to significant amount of swelling and fluid build up which can add significantly to the pain.

What you need to do if your dog is bitten

If your dog is bitten it is highly recommended that you take them to your veterinarian. Even if the wounds seem minor they still have a great potential for an infection. An emergency vet visit is warranted if there is a fair amount of bleeding, the damage to the bite wounds are extensive, or your dog has limited movement.

Even though hydrogen peroxide may be great at killing germs it can also slow healing because it can damage cells responsible for the healing process.  Preferable solutions to clean wounds include betadine and chlorohexidine. Both solutions needed to be diluted to prevent irritation of the skin. It is still recommended that a veterinarian cleans the wounds  when possible. There are some wounds where these solutions still can cause damage  to the tissue depending on where they are located. 

Remember with bite wounds what you don’t see is what you have to worry about. So if your dog is dealing with extensive damage ,they may need multiple surgeries to allow for recovery.

How to prevent bite wounds

 

In my career I have seen quite a few dog bites. Some of the most common scenarios for dogs bite include a larger dog attacking a smaller dog, a house mates fighting each other over food or toys, and dogs running off leash at dog parks.  Given these scenarios there are a few options that may help reduce dog attacks.

Have a good fence: If your yard is not fenced in consider walking smaller dogs out on a leash even if trained to stay within their yard. Consider a wooden fence that will likely block vision from potential attackers.

Consider all factors when testing temperament: When introducing a new dog in the household make sure you test temperament with different scenarios such as when eating, with different toys, and when around specific people. 

Be aware of neighborhood surroundings: Be mindful of surrounding neighborhood such as history of roaming dogs, or new dogs in the neighborhood.

Consider training for your pet: If your dog is showing signs of dog aggression, consider bringing in a trainer to help socialize your dog. It is also important that your dog fully understands basic commands so you are in control of your dog at all times.

Doggy Body Armor?:They actually have an apparatus that a dog can wear that can greatly reduce the damage that be done from a dog attack.  The product is called Spike Bite and it is a harness the use pads embedded with metallic spikes to deter bites.  This apparatus is designed to protect critical areas on the body such as the neck and the trunk. A pet owner may consider this if they know a pet is at a high risk for dog attacks.

Final thoughts

Though bite wounds in dogs can’t be completely avoided there are ways you can greatly reduce them. If a bite wound occurs remember no matter how minor it looks, it always is to play it safe and have it checked out by a veterinarian.

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