How to Give First Aid to Your Dog

How to Treat a Dog With an Animal Bite

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Step 2

When a dog gets into a fight with another dog, a cat, or a wild animal, damage can occur to both the skin and the underlying tissue. Many dogfights can be avoided by not permitting your dog to run loose and by keeping it on a leash when you walk it. The dog should also be trained to obey your commands.

If your dog does get into a fight, do not try to break it up with your bare hands. A fighting dog will bite anything in its way, including you. Pull your leashed dog out of harm's way or use a long stick. After the fight is over, examine your dog carefully for hidden wounds. You'll often find punctures around the neck area and on the legs. Look through the hair carefully to find bloodstains, which would indicate the skin has been punctured.


It is important to determine if the biting animal has been inoculated against rabies. If the biter is a wild animal such as a skunk or raccoon, efforts should be made to destroy it so the brain can be examined for rabies. Never touch the wild animal with your bare hands, even after it has been killed. Wear gloves or wrap the body in a blanket. Your veterinarian will take care of the rabies examination.

To provide proper care to a dog suffering from an animal bite, use the following tips.

Step 1: Restrain the dog if necessary.

Step 1a: Approach the dog slowly, speaking in a reassuring tone of voice.

Step 1b: Slip a leash around the dog's neck, then place the leash around a fixed object. Pull the dog against this object and tie the leash so the dog cannot move its head.

Step 1c: Muzzle the dog to protect yourself.

Step 2: Clip the hair around the wound.

Step 3: Flush the wound thoroughly with clean water. Avoid home antiseptics, which may cause pain when applied.

Step 4: Examine the wound. If the tissue under the wound appears to pass by when you move the skin, the wound will probably require stitches.

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Step 3

Step 5: DO NOT bandage. Allow the wound to drain unless there is excessive bleeding. If the wound does bleed excessively, follow these steps:

Step 5a: Cover wound with clean cloth, sterile dressing, or sanitary napkin.

Step 5b: Place your hand over the dressing and press firmly.

Step 5c: Keep pressure on the dressing to stop the bleeding.

Step 5d: If blood soaks through the dressing, DO NOT remove it. Apply more dressing and continue to apply pressure until the bleeding stops.

Step 6: If the wound is deep enough to require stitches, transport the dog immediately to the veterinarian.

Step 7: Be sure to contact your veterinarian if your dog is not current on its rabies vaccination.

Dogs are natural swimmers, but situations can occur where a dog swims too far and starts drowning. Turn to the next section to find out how to best handle this type of emergency.