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What should you do if a child is bitten by a dog?

Dog bites affect around 4 million people every year, with around one in five of those bites resulting in serious injuries that require medical attention. Children are more likely to be bitten than adults for a number of reasons, and on top of that, the injuries they suffer are more likely to be severe.

What should you do if your child is bitten? Start by controlling the bleeding. Allowing minor cuts to bleed helps flush out bacteria and debris, but larger wounds need to be stopped immediately to prevent too much blood from being lost. Use a clean towel, washcloth or other kind of compress to add pressure to the wound until help arrives.

If the wound isn't severe enough to require emergency treatment and it will be a few hours before you receive care for your child, clean the wound yourself by running water over it gently. Use soap and water to cleanse the wound, and then cover it with antibiotic ointments and a bandage. When you go to the doctor, he or she will want to remove those bandages to look at the wound to see if any other kind of care is necessary.

If you know the owner of the dog, make sure to find out about the pet's vaccination records. If there are no records, your child may need to receive a rabies vaccine or treatments for other possible diseases or infections. These medical expenses should be covered by the owner of the pet, since it is the job of the owner to keep control of his or her animal at all times.

Source: What to Expect, "Treating Dog Bites in Children," accessed Nov. 10, 2016

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