What to do if Bitten by a Dog (Animal Attack)

If you have been bitten by a dog, here are steps you can take to protect your health, your community and your legal rights.

Take Care of Your Injuries

Dog bites need to be cleaned so that they do not become infected. Wash the area with warm soapy water, and then cover with a sterile bandage. Apply an antibacterial ointment as needed to reduce the chance of infection.

Get Immunization Records (if possible)

If you know the owner of the dog or animal that attacked you, ask for a copy of its immunization records. Although rabies is relatively uncommon among pets in the United States, it is a serious condition, and you do not want to take chances. If immunization records cannot be found, please contact a physician immediately.

Call a Doctor

More serious injuries will require the help of a physician. Here is a list of prior conditions, signs or symptoms to be aware of if you have bitten by a dog or attacked by an animal. If any of the following apply to you, contact a doctor immediately.

  • You have AIDS, cancer, diabetes or other conditions which weaken your immune system or hamper your body’s ability to fight infection.
  • You cannot find an immunization record for the dog or animal.
  • Your tetanus vaccination is not current. If it has been more than 5 years since your last shot, you are probably not protected.
  • The injury is becoming infected (i.e. shows redness, swelling, or pus).
  • The injury will not stop bleeding within fifteen minutes.
  • You think you may have a broken bone or bones, or nerve damage may be present.
  • The injury is to the face, hands or feet (i.e. likely to involve broken bones or nerve damage).

Document Your Injury

Take pictures of your injury. Should you decide to claim compensation, this documentation will help your case.

Report Injury

If you have been bitten by a dog, or have been the victim of an animal attack, report the incident to the police or an animal control agency. Do your part to help keep the community safe.

Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer

Depending on the laws where you live, you may be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. In some states this may be a straight liability issue, while in other states, an owner may be held responsible for dog bite injuries through premises liability or negligence.