What Should You Watch for After a Dog Bite?

After a dog bite, you should watch for signs of infection, as dogs’ mouths can contain bacteria that are dangerous to humans. However, monitor any bite caused by a dog even if there are no signs of a serious injury.

Additionally, seeking prompt medical help may not only ensure your safety but also provide crucial evidence for your dog bite case.

Types of Infections and Diseases from Dog Bites

Animals are prime vectors for disease, even domesticated dogs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common conditions associated with dog bites are:

  • Tetanus
  • Rabies
  • Common infections
  • Capnocytophaga

Your individual risk will depend on the bite’s location and whether the dog has been vaccinated. Some factors that can put you further at risk for some conditions are:

  • Diabetes
  • Compromised immunity
  • Excessive alcohol use

If you have any of these risk factors, consult your doctor following a dog bite. Bites from stray or feral dogs should always be evaluated by healthcare providers.


Easily preventable with vaccines and boosters, tetanus is uncommon but still possible to contract from a dog bite. Warning signs include:

  • Jaw cramping or “lockjaw”
  • Muscle spasms and stiffness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Cardiac symptoms

If you can’t remember the last time you had a tetanus booster, consider receiving another following a bite.


Because rabies can cause dogs to be more aggressive, it is reasonable to be concerned about contracting rabies after getting bit. Rabies can be insidious due to its incubation period, which can last for weeks or months, according to the CDC.

Once someone begins to show the clinical signs of rabies, there is little that doctors can do to prevent it from running its course. As a result, if you were bitten by a dog suspected of rabies, do not wait to seek treatment.

Common Infections

Bacteria, like staphylococcus and streptococcus, are the most common strains to cause infections after dog bites. They are treatable with antibiotics if caught. Monitor your bite for signs of:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pus
  • Fever

Keeping a wound clean, closed, and protected can also help prevent infection.


This bacterium can particularly affect people with compromised immune systems. Watch for:

  • Blisters around the bite
  • Signs of infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Body pain

Some of these symptoms can manifest within hours. Blistering around the wound is one of the first signs of Capnocytophaga.

This ailment can cause serious complications in some people, including cardiac arrest, kidney failure, and sepsis. All of these conditions require emergency medical attention.

Other Dog Bite Concerns

The severity of a dog bite depends on the dog, victim, and bite’s location. Injuries can range from nips to broken bones. As the Cleveland Clinic notes, a dog’s front teeth grab and compress while small teeth tear.

Serious dog bites can cause things like:

  • Deep punctures
  • Jagged or torn skin
  • Crushed bones
  • Nerve damage
  • Excessive bleeding

Damage to one’s nerves, tendons, or ligaments may require emergency medical intervention to properly heal. Doctors can determine if a bite is deep or large enough to warrant stitches, which could speed up healing, prevent infection, and reduce scarring.

In other words, signs of infection are not the only reason to see a doctor after a dog bite. To play it safe, seek medical help after any bite to ensure the wound is properly sterilized and treated.

Dangers for Young Bite Victims

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), dog bites disproportionately affect children between the ages of five to nine years old. Most attacks also occur in the home, possibly with animals they know.

At that age, children may be unable to express changes in their injury. If your child was bitten by a dog, seek treatment immediately.

Seeking Medical Care Helps Your Legal Case

Knowing what you need to watch for after a dog bite does more than protect your physical health. It can also provide crucial evidence for a dog bite liability case, creating medical records that illustrate the injury’s timeline.

Furthermore, if you suffer any of the above complications, compensation can help cover your bills and losses. You may be able to pursue damages to defray the cost of:

  • Emergency room visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Stitches
  • X-rays
  • Antibiotics
  • Prescription medications
  • Reconstructive surgery

If you were injured by someone else’s dog, your medical records can verify the extent of your injuries, provide a glimpse into your economic losses, and form the basis of your case.

Call Us with Your Dog Bite Questions

Our team at the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC can support you through the financial recovery process. Call us today with any questions at (571) 229-1800. We can discuss your case and what you should watch for after a dog bite.

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