Sometimes dogs can have a personality clash with each other. Not all dogs are as friendly as yours, and a negligent owner may drop the leash or let their animal get away from them or their property. So what should you do if another dog bites your dog?
In short, if your dog was bitten by another dog, remain calm, avoid further contact between the dogs, assess your dog’s injuries, and get your dog any medical treatment they may need.
More specifically, here’s what to do if your dog was bitten by another dog.
Immediate Dog Bite Aftermath: What To Do After a Dog Has Bitten Your Dog
We are all well aware of the risks of dogs biting people. But dogs biting other dogs is a very common occurrence.
Perhaps you took your dog to the park to get some fresh air and exercise. Everything was going fine until they got a little too close to another dog that wanted to be left alone. They nipped at each other, and before you could get to them, they got into a fight and your dog was bitten.
What should you do?
Do Not Get Between the Dogs
Physically separating fighting dogs should be the last resort. When dogs start fighting, they bite at anything, including their owner’s hands or legs.
Try clapping your hands loudly or yelling to get their attention. Once they snap out of it, they will separate, and your dog will return to you.
If this doesn’t work, try using another object (such as a chair or a pole) to separate them. Alternatively, spray the dogs with water.
Assess the Injuries
First, put the leash back on your dog to have more control over further interactions. Get down to their level and calmly look them over to see if they have any injuries. If they are bleeding a lot, cover the wound the best you can and get ready to see your veterinarian.
Be careful during this examination phase as your dog will likely still be amped up and in a highly stressed state. You don’t want to risk them biting you as they can be easily triggered in this condition.
An injured dog will often become very protective of themselves, and may bite defensively, even if it is their owner or another familiar individual.
Do your best to be calm and comfort your dog with soothing words, and don’t make aggressive moves when handling your dog.
Exchange Contact Info With the Other Dog’s Owner
Hopefully, the other dog’s owner will be just as concerned as you. Exchange contact info with them so you can reach one another later. You may need to speak with them after you see the vet. If the other person is confrontational or uncooperative, call the police immediately.
Take a picture of the other dog and your dog’s wounds. You don’t have to assume there will be legal problems, but you should prepare if there are. Get as much information about what happened as possible before leaving the scene.
If there were other witnesses to the incident, try to get their contact info as well. It can be difficult to track down witnesses later.
Treat Bites and Scratches Immediately
It could take a few minutes to get to the vet. If your dog is bleeding, that time could make the difference between life and death. If you carry a first-aid kit in your car, dress your dog’s wounds as soon as possible to keep them covered and clean until you can get to your vet’s office.
Alternatively, you can use a shirt or towel to wrap your dog’s wounds to slow the bleeding.
Go to the Veterinarian
Taking your dog to the vet after being bitten by another dog is crucial because you may miss smaller wounds, bite marks, or internal bleeding during your initial inspection.
A dog’s mouth is full of bacteria, and a dog bite can get infected easily.
Infection is the biggest concern when dealing with bite wounds. Without proper medical care your dog could suffer from one of these illnesses:
- Pus buildup
- Joint infection
- Bone infection
What Your Veterinarian Will Do
Once you get to the vet’s office, be completely honest about what happened. Regardless of whether the fight was your dog’s fault or not, they still have to be treated. Your vet can only treat what is wrong if they clearly understand the events that caused the injuries.
The vet will examine any bites or scratches your dog may have gotten from the attack. They will check any punctures for depth since they have a high risk of infection. They will also examine your dog to ensure there are no broken bones, damaged nerves, or other injuries.
Afterward, the vet will stitch, clean, and dress any wounds your dog may have. They might prescribe some painkillers if the injuries are bad enough. They will also prescribe antibiotics to prevent an abscess and fight infection.
If your vet is concerned about broken bones or internal damage, they will take an x-ray. In extreme cases, your vet may ask you to leave your dog overnight for monitoring.
Taking Care of Your Dog’s Wounds
Once you get your dog home, you should pay close attention to your pet. Injuries you or your vet could have missed may manifest themselves over the next few days. In the meantime, keeping your dog’s wounds clean is the best thing you can do.
Your dog’s bites and scratches should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water at least two to three times daily. If the area around the wound is sensitive, they may bite at you out of instinct once you start touching it.
To protect yourself and your pet, use a muzzle while you examine and dress your dog’s wounds.
How To Clean Your Dog’s Wounds
Have your dog lie down and ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. Use a cloth with pet-friendly soap and water to thoroughly clean the area. Be gentle, as it probably hurts them, but be firm enough to get the area sterile.
Applying antibiotic ointment to the wound after cleaning will help prevent infection. You can also buy an Elizabethan collar or an alternative to keep them from licking their wounds or biting their stitches.
Depending on the severity of your dog’s injuries, you may need to reapply their bandages. Your vet should walk you through the process, but always ensure dressings are tight but not to the point where they cut off circulation.
How Can You Help Your Dog’s Pain?
If your dog’s injuries are bad enough, they will be in pain. Continue to give them the pain medication the vet prescribed them. Ask your vet if ice packs or heating pads could help ease their discomfort.
You should also keep your dog’s activity to a minimum until they have recovered. Try restricting them to one room and limiting their time outside.
Watch For Signs of Trauma
After a dog has been attacked by another animal, they could begin to show symptoms of trauma. Some dogs don’t show as much excitement when going outside. Others will become timid around other dogs. If you see behavior in your dog that is out of the ordinary, you should contact your veterinarian.
If your dog seems more clingy after the incident, and you notice you have to coax them more to go out or to be around other dogs, they may have developed some anxiety. In some cases, your dog may need to take some anti-anxiety medication or a sedative until they start feeling like their old self again.
Getting Back to Normal Life
If your dog was bitten by another dog in your home, find out what instigated the event. If an issue arose over a toy or some food, additional behavioral training could be called for. If it was a clashing of personalities, you may have to find another solution.
Don’t let this event deter you from having fun with your dog. If you both enjoyed trips to the park before, you should be working toward getting back to that. Learning to read behavioral signs will help you sense when things are about to turn bad.
How Can You Prevent Bites to Your Dog?
Knowing your dog’s temperament is part of keeping them safe. If they get nervous or skittish around other dogs, the dog park may not be an ideal place to take them. You can go for a walk at another park or keep your dog on a short leash.
If you visit the dog park, be sure it’s not too crowded. Being around a lot of dogs could trigger a response and cause them to lash out. Remember that most dog bites are a result of fear and not aggression.
Watch the Other Dogs
You must always assume that the dogs around you haven’t received formal training. While most dogs will be well-behaved, it only takes one poorly-trained animal to instigate a fight.
Keep your eye on the other dogs and watch for warning signs that they may be about to bite. The first thing to look out for is barking that seems aggressive.
But there are plenty of other warning signs that dogs use to show that they are uncomfortable. Here are some common cues to look out for:
- Rigid stance
- Avoiding gaze
- Lip licking with head down
- Tucked tail
If you see any of these signs, you should leash your dog and leave the area. Mention to the other dog’s owner that they look overstimulated and may need a break. It’s always better to be cautious.
Watch Your Own Dog
While you need to be aware of your surroundings and watch the body language of other dogs, it’s also crucial to watch your own dog for signs of discomfort. Don’t let your dog stray too far and keep an eye out for signs of aggression, such as growling or baring teeth.
If your dog seems skittish or doesn’t want to leave your side, pick them up and remove them from the situation.
Dog bites can be as painful and dangerous to your dog as they are to you. Do your best to avoid situations where they may occur, but if a dog does bite your dog, try to remain calm and think clearly so that your dog can get to safety as well as receive the care it needs.