You are out walking your dog at the park. It’s a lovely afternoon and there are many people and their furry friends enjoying the break from the dreary weather of winter. You decide to enter the off-leash area of the park – something you and your dog do almost every day. Soon an unfamiliar dog approaches your pet. Immediately you can tell this isn’t going to go well…
There is a brief but intense encounter between the two animals. Your first instinct is to jump in and ‘save’ your dog but you remember how dangerous this can be and the likelihood of getting bitten is high. The dogs separate however you can’t immediately see if your animal is hurt. What do you do?
First, be aware your pet may be experiencing pain and trauma. Animals instinctively want to protect themselves and may inadvertently lash out towards you. Handle them gently. Assist them if they require help into your vehicle but do so with minimal manipulation. Call ahead to your veterinary hospital and let them know you are on your way.
Once at the hospital, give the support team all relative information pertaining to the circumstances. If your animal is being treated for any known health condition, let the staff know.
It is important that a veterinarian perform a full physical examination on any patient that has suffered a bite wound because even the smallest wound may be just the tip of the iceberg. Many wounds are much deeper and damaging than what is evident on the surface.
What should I do before I bring my pet to the veterinarian?
We recommend using special care when handling and transporting your pet because he/she may be painful or distressed from the trauma. Animals can lash out when feeling pain or anxiety so gently secure your pet in a carrier or wrap him/her in blankets and towels while in transit.
Acquire as much information as possible about the attacker. If the attacker was an owned animal, gather its health records and proof of rabies vaccination (if possible). The attacker should also be examined by a veterinary professional for subtle injuries. Contact your local police if you wish to pursue legal action.
Your pet will most likely require pain medication upon arrival. Besides minimizing discomfort, pain medication can also ease anxieties and stress. A thorough examination of your pet will be done and from here, a treatment plan – including wound repair (if necessary) – will be established.
Indeed some bite wounds can be minor and require a moderate amount of veterinary care. These animals are the lucky ones. There are, however, some wounds that require weeks of medical care that may include multiple bandages, stitches, drains and continued medications.
It is best not to assume your dog ‘will be fine’ if he/she has had an altercation with another animal. Having your pet examined by a veterinarian is the best way to ensure their health and wellbeing. Consider keeping your pet on a leash and closely monitored at all times. Avoid undesirable areas and stick to leashed parks or supervised off-lead areas. We are always responsible for our own animals so know your dog’s personality and keep in mind the potential risk when using off-lead parks.
How do I prevent bite wounds
Consider keeping your pet on a leash or closely monitored at all times. Be aware of your pet’s response to other animals and avoid interactions with unfamiliar animals. Remove your pet from stressful situations before conflict a
Written by: Kim MacAskill, RVT