Call a doctor whenever someone in your family is bitten by a dog in New Jersey. Very often, animal bites are more than just simple wounds – they can lead to a host of health problems such as infections and tissue damage. When do you need a doctor for a dog bite, and what type of doctor should you call?
A New Jersey emergency room physician, a general practitioner, or a family practitioner are all qualified to treat a dog bite. A doctor should look at any dog bite that breaks the skin. Even a harmless-looking puncture can open up the body to bacterial infections, rabies, or tetanus. Medical attention is particularly important if the bite is from an unfamiliar dog, as the dog’s immunization history is unknown. Further, if the victim has a weakened immune system, it’s best not to risk complications – visit your doctor right away.
If the bite is from your own pet and you are confident that the dog has complete immunization, you may opt to watch for symptoms first before calling a doctor. Perform first aid by washing the wound with soap and water, or a saline solution if available, then apply pressure on the area to minimize bleeding. See a doctor if:
- Bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes of applied pressure.
- There is redness or swelling that does not go away after 24 hours.
- There is pus from or around the wound.
What kind of medical professional should you call for a dog bite? You can contact an ER doctor for an immediate response, or you can visit your general physician or family practice doctor. Each is qualified to perform wound care and to make decisions on further treatment.
If the dog attack is severe – involving multiple bites and/or large or deep wounds – call 911 right away.
A victim in a severe case will likely need an emergency medical team plus certain specialists. For instance, if the bite caused damage to deep tissues such as nerves, muscles, joints, and bones, an orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon should work on the case. If skin grafting is needed, a plastic surgeon may have to perform aesthetic or reconstructive surgery. A neurologist may also be called in if there is a potential rabies infection.
Apart from these, you might need to consult a mental health professional after a particularly traumatic animal attack. The scientific community acknowledges that a dog bite is one experience that can lead to psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Don’t hesitate to see a psychologist or psychotherapist if you have lingering fears or intense anxiety following your dog bite incident.
These important treatments can be life-saving but they can also be costly. If your dog bite was due to another pet owner or handler, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. For your legal options in New Jersey, call The Grossman Law Firm at (732) 625-9494. We have successfully obtained full compensation for many individuals and families who have suffered serious injury due to the negligence of others.