What to do if your dog bites another animal

No one wants to be involved in a biting incident – be it a dogfight or an attack on another species. We love them, but dogs are still dogs and sometimes things happen. With a calm head, the situation can easily be defused. Here is some advice for what you should do as an owner if your dog bites another animal.


Do

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  • use something that can't be hurt to break up an ongoing fight
  • remain calm
  • check for wounds and perform triage
  • make sure all animal participants are current on rabies vaccine
  • offer assistance to pay for needed medical care
Don't

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  • stick your hand in the middle of a fight and get bitten too
  • wait to seek medical attention
  • avoid a full medical work up, even if your dog doesn’t appear to be hurt
  • rule out behavior consultation
  • enter the same situation that previously caused a bite without intervention

Cathy Alinovi‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do use something that can't be hurt to break up an ongoing fight

It’s hard to hurt a broom, which makes it a good inanimate object to divert attention. Another way to stop the fight is to pull on the dog’s tail or back legs. It may seem a touch mean, but tails and legs are usually well attached and simply separating the dogs can be enough to stop the fight.

Do remain calm

This is probably the number one action you can take to keep things from escalating. Sometimes, the owner of the other animal loses his/her cool and becomes ready to fight – take the calm and respectful route and prevent worsening of the situation.

Do check for wounds and perform triage

Regardless of who started or finished the fight, all participants may have injuries. Apply pressure if blood is flowing. Leave the bandage in place and call your veterinarian ASAP. Every time you move the bandage, the clotting breaks open a bleeding continues. Instead, if blood soaks through the bandage, add another bandage on top. Make sure all parties are breathing and are aware of their surroundings – again, call your veterinarian if anything is not normal.

Do make sure all animal participants are current on rabies vaccine

Current vaccination against rabies virus is a legal requirement in most places in the US – it will save you a misdemeanor charge if your dog is up to date.

Do offer assistance to pay for needed medical care

Good PR goes along way to heal emotional wounds. Offering to pay is not admission of guilt or blame, it’s simply a good move to defuse the situation and prevent further issues.


Cathy Alinovi‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not stick your hand in the middle of a fight and get bitten too

In the heat of the moment, a dog is just biting, and won’t know until later the difference between human flesh and any other species. Inanimate objects won't mind a bite wound as much as our flesh. Consider using your coat, backpack, or other item that you have on you so that you don't end up getting bitten too.

Do not wait to seek medical attention

Dog bites crush and can cause a lot of unseen trauma, in addition to puncture holes or tears that may be present. Bacterial infection and bruising injuries are most common consequences of dog bites. The longer you wait to treat the injuries, the worse the wounds can become.

Do not avoid a full medical work up, even if your dog doesn’t appear to be hurt

Especially if biting or a fight is an unusual behavior – your dog may be telling you something is going on if he's biting when he's never done that before. Have the vet check your dog for anything out of the ordinary.

Do not rule out behavior consultation

For dogs who've bitten before, there may be a behavioral issue a skilled dog trainer can help you work through with your dog. Sometimes, the cure is as simple as having an outside set of eyes see how the situation develops into a biting situation.

Do not enter the same situation that previously caused a bite without intervention

Be it kids, adults, dogs or cats – whatever the trigger – retraining, possible medical care, and/or avoidance prevents your dog from getting a bad rap


Summary

A dog bite situation can be scary and wounds can be pretty serious. Keeping a calm head and working with others will help defuse serious situations and prevent future recurrences.

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