Important Things That You Should Do After Being Bitten By A Dog

Getting bitten by a dog is a horrible experience, regardless of whether or not you know your way around dogs. If you were bitten despite having some knowledge of canine behavior, it means the attack was too sudden for you to recognize the warning signs. If you didn’t have much experience with dogs before, a dog bite can be traumatizing to the extent of causing you to develop a phobia. In both cases, it’s a harrowing situation that takes a few seconds and can have massive repercussions. That’s why it’s important to know what to do if you were bitten by a dog. The knowledge will help you handle the situation smoothly while protecting your legal rights. 

dog showing teeth out of aggression

Take a Step Back

First and foremost, you need to put some distance between yourself and the hostile dog. Dogs are likely to attack more than once, especially if they feel threatened or challenged. Once attacked, step back and keep your distance if the dog is on a leash. If the dog is off-leash, you have two options, either to escape or confront. No matter how fast of a runner you are, a dog will catch up in a matter of seconds. Meaning, you should only run away if you know you’re fast enough and if you’re close to somewhere where the dog can’t get to you. Other than that, you’ll have to either yell to break their focus or throw something at them before you make an escape while they’re distracted. If push comes to shove, defend yourself with anything you have on you, preferably a long object, like an umbrella, to keep them from getting to you.

Take the Owner's Information

Once you’re out of harm’s way, and only if your injury is not life-threatening, point your attention towards the owner. There are two important questions to ask here. The first is about the dog’s vaccination history. If the dog isn’t vaccinated against rabies, have someone drive you to a hospital as soon as you get the owner’s information. If the dog is vaccinated, you can calm down a little and proceed to the second question. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, according to, you’re entitled to monetary compensation for your injury. In order to build a strong case, you need to identify the owner and the dog. If you can, ask the owner for their name, phone number, and address, as well as proof of rabies vaccination. This information will serve as a good starting point for your lawyer to start building your case.

Photograph Your Wounds

This is quite an important step to take when bitten. In the first few days following a bite, you need to monitor the wound for signs of infection. Daily photographs are a great way to do so, from the moment you’re bitten and until the wound heals. In addition, photographs are considered admissible evidence in court. Meaning, if you choose to file a lawsuit against an irresponsible dog owner, you’ll have proof of what the owner’s recklessness caused and of the damages inflicted on you. Make sure you take clear pictures that display not just the wound, but a slightly wider area to increase the photo’s credibility.

Seek Medical Treatment

Once you’ve taken these steps, you need to seek medical treatment. If you’ve sustained a minor injury and you’re not planning on filing a lawsuit, you can stay at home, administer first-aid, and monitor the wound for signs of infection afterward. Seeking medical assistance directly after an attack will minimize your chances of getting an infection, and if you’ve been bit by an unvaccinated dog, you’ll be able to get the help you need right away. From a legal aspect, the sooner you see a doctor, the better you can establish the seriousness of the injury in court which will strengthen your case even more than pictures.

dog biting and digging teeth in

It’s important to know how to navigate the aftermath of a dangerous incident, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Before you approach a dog, always ask permission from its owner because they know their dog better than anyone. Just like humans, some dogs get anxious around strangers which makes them more likely to bite, not out of malice, but out of fear. An owner will warn you if they believe their dog is aggressive. If an unleashed dog stares you down, simply avert your eye gaze to show you’re not a threat. If it approaches you anyway, remain calm, stand your ground, and speak loudly and firmly. A simple “No”, “Sit”, or “Go Home” will be enough to diffuse the situation.