Dog bites, while rare, are one of those things that can just happen. Most properly domesticated dogs will never bite their owners and this is often passed from brood Mother to pup. However, when a dog is stressed, anxious or nervous, their immediate response is to defend themselves from whatever might be causing such stress.
Over the next few paragraphs, we’ll be going over why dogs bite and how to deal with the aftermath of which, especially if it’s a dog you’ve never met before!
So, why do dogs bite?
As previously mentioned, certain stressors can aggravate dogs into a mindset where they feel that their only option is to defend themselves or escape. Wild dogs are more prone to human stressors as they’ve never known the loving hand of an owner. Unfortunately, even domesticated dogs can bite; geriatric dogs especially. An older dog will have hidden pains and aches that an unfamiliar hand might glance over, triggering an aggravated response. Younger, poorly trained, ill-tempered or abused pets are also prone to aggravated responses when meeting strangers, more-so for the first time. Breed can have an impact, but a properly trained Doberman should be as gentle as a Pomeranian when interacting with friends and family.
Why would a dog bite another dog?
Just as humans can be stressors, other animals can be stressors too. A dog may feel threatened by another animal and will move to defend itself or establish dominance, depending on the situation of course. This can be more common than dogs biting humans and pet owners should keep this in the back of their minds when walking their furry friends.
Ok, a dog bit me… What do I do?
In the immediate aftermath of a bite, distance yourself from the animal and treat the wound as you would any other puncture or tear (and don’t fool yourself if it didn’t break your skin). Next, you’ll want to see your local GP as soon as possible as you’re going to be needing a rabies jab and possibly a full course of rabies vaccinations. Again, you’d see a GP over a scratch from a rusted nail, so treat all dog bites just as seriously.
Once the wound has healed and you’ve received any jabs, prods and pokes from your chosen sawbones, you can then put the physical experience behind you and work on dealing with the psychological impact of having been bitten – this is especially prudent if it was a friend or family member’s pet that hurt you and rightly so; as my Mother knows, a dog bite is a jarring shock to your system! There are many great counselling services in Ireland and even a free service through the HSE – it’s what they are there for!
Mhm-hm, but a dog bit my dog!
The first thing you need to do is remove your dog from the situation. Once you’ve put some distance between the offending animal and your own friend you can then assess the wound. No matter how small or large the wound is or how good you are at first-aid (thanks to us and our blogs, no doubt) you’ll want to have it examined by a Vet. Wounds can easily become infected after bites, especially when it’s a bite from a stray and your Vet will be able to judge the severity of the wound and the severity of the treatment needed.
However, it isn’t just physical care that’s necessary with a bite, but behavioural care and management that’s important, too. It’s very likely that a dog will be fearful of whatever caused a bite, so they may be hesitant to interact with other dogs in the immediate and prolonged future as aftermath. They also might react aggressively to other dogs, and we mean all other dogs, not just the one that bit them. In this case it’s imperative that you seek professional help. Don’t force interactions or socialisation, be patient. Your friend will be back to normal in no time at all.
So, now you know what to do in the event of a bite, both for yourself and your pet. Long story short; if you are bitten, get away from the offending dog and see your local GP; if it’s your pet that’s been bitten, treat the wound as best you can and then make an appointment with your Vet.
Before we wrap up, if you do find yourself in the middle of an emergency you really shouldn’t be reading this! Click here for our emergency contact list. Otherwise, call 01 8213189 for our Meath and North Dublin clinic, or 01 2987510 for our South Dublin clinic.
For now, Pet-Pals, we bid you Adieu!