A dog bite can happen when you least expect it. While dogs typically give some indication they’re about to attack, these signs can be easily overlooked. As a result, it can be difficult to avoid dog bites in some cases, especially if you’re attacked by a strange dog on the street without its owner. The Cleveland Clinic recommends the following steps if you’re bitten by a dog. 

Address the wound as soon as possible. With dog bites, there is a risk of infection due to bacteria in the animal’s mouth. You may be able to flush out some of the bacteria by pressing gently on the wound to encourage bleeding. Just be careful not to press too hard. You should also wash the wound with soap and warm water immediately. If it continues bleeding, press a clean bit of cloth or gauze over the wound to stop it. 

Next, find a sterile bandage to protect the wound. You should also put some antibiotic cream on the wound before wrapping it, which will also lower your risk of infection. Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to have the wound examined. If bleeding persists or you notice signs of infection, seek out emergency medical care right away. 

At the doctor, you’ll be asked about the dog that bit you. If the dog is unfamiliar to you and can’t be tracked down by the authorities, the doctor may recommend getting the rabies vaccine. Rabies is a very serious illness that can cause death if left untreated. The vaccine is also used as a treatment, and receiving it in a timely manner after the bite improves your chances of a successful recovery.