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Understanding the health risks of dog bites

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Injuries

Dog bites can cause more than just physical injuries. It’s essential to understand the potential health risks, especially regarding infections and illnesses. There are many types of bacteria and illnesses one can contract from a dog bite.


Rabies, a serious viral infection, affects the nervous system. It almost always proves fatal once symptoms appear. Seek medical attention immediately after a dog bite, especially if the dog is not vaccinated against rabies.


Tetanus, caused by the Clostridium tetani bacteria, leads to severe muscle stiffness and spasms. Ensure that your tetanus vaccinations remain up to date to prevent this potentially dangerous condition after a dog bite.


Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition, results from the body’s response to infection. Symptoms include fever, increased heart rate, and confusion. Seek immediate medical treatment to avoid severe complications.

Other diseases from dog bites

Aside from the more well-known illnesses, there are many other diseases dogs can carry.

  • Pasteurella: This bacteria commonly appears in dog bites and causes redness, swelling, and pain at the bite site. In severe cases, it leads to cellulitis, an infection of the skin and underlying tissues.
  • Staphylococcus aureus: Known for causing staph infections, this bacteria can lead to serious complications if not treated promptly. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and pus at the wound site.
  • Streptococcus: This bacteria can cause strep infections, leading to severe skin and tissue infections. Symptoms include fever, chills, and a swollen, red wound.
  • Capnocytophaga canimorsus: Though rare, this bacteria can cause serious infections, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems. Symptoms may include fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Taking action after a dog bite

Understanding the potential health risks from dog bites is crucial for proper prevention and treatment. Prompt medical attention and appropriate care significantly reduce the risk of infections and other complications. Stay informed and take action to protect your health if you experience a dog bite.