Tell me I don't have to go to the doctor tomorrow - dog bite edition
April 20, 2017 9:33 PM   Subscribe

I got bitten by a dog. Pretty good puncture wounds, definitely not a rabid dog. Doc friends are predicting augmentin. Already did alcohol and bacitracin. Would love not to go to my primary tomorrow.

I don't know how to post a pic, but it's bloody and bruised. It hurts but not swelling or pulsing. I had three tetanus shots in 2013-2014 and have cleaned it and anti-b cream. There's no disagreement among medical professionals that I need to see a doctor, right? Bergh.

Let the owner walk away because I thought it was her paw that got me, but she was clearly not rabid. No other info about the dog except that she was not well-trained but well cared-for.
posted by Pax to Pets & Animals (21 answers total)
You can't tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it.

Please see your doctor.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:18 PM on April 20, 2017 [11 favorites]

Go to the ER right now.
posted by mikek at 10:22 PM on April 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

What you absolutely MUST do if you want to avoid a doctor visit is contact the owner of the dog and get the name/number of their vet so you can contact said vet for rabies vaccine info. If the owner and the vet confirm that the rabies vaccine is up-to-date, you could call your doctor, explain the situation, and ask them if you need to be seen.
posted by epj at 10:29 PM on April 20, 2017 [12 favorites]

Go. To. Doctor.

Get. Rabies. Shot.

posted by Toddles at 10:34 PM on April 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

The dog probably doesn't have rabies. My wife studies rabies. Rabies is fatal. Go to the doctor.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:48 PM on April 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

I'd be more worried about infection than rabies. Rabies is incredibly rare in the US in domestic dogs these days. Infection from a bite is no joke though and alcohol and bactrin is not a great way to treat puncture wounds to prevent it, especially if they go all the way through the skin into the tissue below in which case you've just gummed the punctures up with goop and wet skin leaving them to fester on the inside. I'd probably go to local urgent care at this point and get antibiotics and a proper cleaning out.
posted by fshgrl at 10:58 PM on April 20, 2017 [25 favorites]

I had a dog bite once and it probably got infected because I didn't immediately get it checked/cleaned out. You know what that gets you? IV antibiotics and a multi-day hospital stay. I advise at least urgent care, if not ER.
posted by emkelley at 1:08 AM on April 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

From the CDC website: Human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported annually. Thirty-four cases of human rabies have been diagnosed in the United States since 2003, in which 10 cases were found to have contracted infection outside of the United States and its territories."

The page lists the 34 deaths—the 9 attributed to dog bites involved dogs outside the US.

So, I wouldn't be worried about rabies, but infection is still a risk.

(Fwiw, if it is rabies, the news should be worthy of an FPP on the blue.)
posted by she's not there at 1:14 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Fwiw, if it is rabies, the news should be worthy of an FPP on the blue.)

By someone else, because I'd be dead. Thanks, everyone, this is what I figured.
posted by Pax at 3:16 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I got bit by my own dog who I know was utd on rabies and went to the ER because rabies is not the only thing that could infect you here. Go see your doc.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:45 AM on April 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

My own dog bit me a few weeks ago (totally my fault, I impatiently stuck my hand in her mouth and tried to take a piece of bone out.) I was told by online friends to go to the ER, which was not fun, but necessary. In addition to the puncture wounds I had a tiny fracture in the tip of my finger, and am still wearing a splint. I did a lot of home care for the first few weeks until it scabbed over, but definitely needed to be on Augmentin. Go to the doc NOW.
posted by wens at 4:16 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

You don't need to go to a doctor tomorrow; you need to go to a doctor IMMEDIATELY.

One of my kids is a vet tech and she was bitten by a dog that wasn't up to date on its vaccines.

You should get this looked at NOW because you want them to clean it and determine if you need rabies preventative treatment. You will probably get prescribed antibiotics because puncture wounds can push germy nastiness into your body.

You need to try to find this dog owner and get proof of rabies vaccinations, otherwise you may have to get treatment for possible rabies. That will be a series of shots but the critical thing is to get your first shot as soon as possible after the incident, so no dilly dallying -- go to a doctor NOW.

You'll also need proof you're up to date on tetanus, otherwise you'll be getting a tetanus booster.

she was clearly not rabid This is a dangerous assumption. She may not be rabid but she may not be up to date on her immunizations. You need to be concerned about more than rabies.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:37 AM on April 21, 2017 [7 favorites]

Oh also, my daughter was offered painkillers and said no - a few days later she really wished she had just taken the script because it took a few days for the bitten hand to become very, very painful which I guess can be a thing with dog bites.

Take the painkiller script just in case.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:54 AM on April 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

At the very least, you want to see a doctor because they might want to stitch up the wound. I was bitten by a dog in my youth, and I wish my parents had taken me to the doctor because now I have a hole-scar in my hand that I wish was less visible and didn't constantly remind me of a really scary thing that happened.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:36 AM on April 21, 2017

I am assuming that you live in a US city or suburb.

I hope you saw a doctor last night!

I also hope that you reported this bite to Animal Control or whoever serves that function in your city. They will help you track down the owner of the dog based on where you encountered the dog and your physical description of the owner and the dog. They will want to check the dogs vaccination record and if the dog has a history of biting.
posted by muddgirl at 6:14 AM on April 21, 2017

If you do have to get rabies vaccine - which I hope you have already gone to the ER and discussed with a dr but just in case! - know they are no where near as bad as rumored. The first one hurts (it's a series and the first time you also get an additional shot) but the rest are not that big a deal, just like a regular shot.
posted by john_snow at 6:44 AM on April 21, 2017

By someone else, because I'd be dead. Thanks, everyone, this is what I figured.

The incubation period for rabies in humans can be as short as a week or up to a year. I think the question has been well addressed, but just to be clear, absence of symptoms shortly after a dog bite is not evidence of absence of rabies.
posted by telegraph at 6:58 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

The real question that you would be thinking about is why are you so reluctant to go to the doctor/why do you need to ask about going in the first place?

Doctors can be expensive for some people, even with insurance, but not as expensive as the possible issues as a result of not going.
posted by TinWhistle at 7:15 AM on April 21, 2017

I was bitten by a dog when I was 15 and I did not get a rabies series. The dog was not current on his rabies vaccine but I talked with animal control, who talked with the department of health. The owner was cited for various civil violations and was the dog put under vet observation for a week or so. This is why contacting Animal control or whichever other department handles that function in your city is an important step.

Another reason to report dog bites is that in most states the owner is likely liable for your medical bills.
posted by muddgirl at 7:57 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah you should report the dog bite to appropriate authorities. Who knows their history?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:56 AM on April 21, 2017

Update: Augmentin, ice.

Doc saw me right away this morning. She didn't recommend the rabies series, no stitches, and was satisfied with the wound's cleanliness (commented several times that having been wearing pants was lucky) but irrigated with saline. Working on a pretty darn impressive bruise around the still-bloody but non-seeping punctures.

Have already reported the incident to the city animal bite reporting folks, also trying to track down the name of the dog-owner through the bar at which she was sitting outside with the dog (bartender might know - she seems to have been out with some matching-shirt folks, like a kickball league or something).

Thanks for the input!
posted by Pax at 12:12 PM on April 21, 2017 [8 favorites]

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