The myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s is not entirely accurate. Bacteria do live and thrive in a dog’s mouth. Dogs eat a variety of things, including things that carry known diseases. The types of bacteria that can live in a dog’s mouth range from streptococcus and staphylococcus to E. coli. The dog bite introduces the various bacteria in their saliva into the tissue of the bite victim. While most of the bacteria living in a dog’s mouth does not cause infection, some of the bacteria present could cause severe and even life-threatening complications. That is why it is important for dog bite victims to seek medical treatment for their wounds, even if the wound doesn’t appear deep. When you’ve experienced a dog bite attack, it is also wise to consult a legal professional. This will be an important safeguard in the event and infection develops as a result of one of the common bacterias listed below.
This is the bacterium most common in dog bite infections. Pasteurella naturally resides in a dog’s mouth. The infection caused by pasteurella can spread quickly and infect tendons, joints and bone if left unattended. Symptoms can include pain as well as reddening and swelling in the area of the wound. Because severe complications can occur from non-treatment of the infection, it is important to have the wound treated immediately.
Staphylococcus is bacteria that can infect the tissues in the body, causing any number of diseases. These diseases can present symptoms from mild to severe, sometimes resulting in death. Since most dog bites break the skin, the staphylococcus bacteria can enter deep tissue and develop there. Staphylococcus aureus has been found in numerous dog bite wounds.
Dogs will eat anything. They eat fecal matter and dead animals. Therefore, it is not unusual to find the E. coli bacteria in their mouths. When the dog bites, the saliva contains the E. coli and can transmit it to the person. This can cause severe illness and death.
The infection caused by capnocytophaga canimorsus is rare but is highly dangerous. This bacterium causes blood poisoning, which can be fatal. The majority of the cases of capnocytophaga canimorsus were not severe bite wounds that did not require a great deal of medical care. Common symptoms with this infection include headache, muscle aches, nausea and rash.
Caring for the Wound
Dog bites should be attended by a physician. The bite will be thoroughly irrigated with water and the dead tissue will be removed. If the bite is a puncture not on the face or disfiguring, it is not unusual for the doctor to leave the wound open to the air to kill the bacteria in the wound. If the wound is sutured and an infection results, the wound will be re-opened and the infection cleared.
Seeking Legal Counsel
Medical bills from a dog bite can be extensive. Most cases of dog bites involve someone else’s dog. It is important to protect the victim’s rights when it comes to compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Whether the matter goes to court or is adequately handled with the insurance company, it is vital to find an attorney with experience in dog bite matters.