When your dog is bitten

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Dogs bite. All dogs bite. There is no such thing as a dog who "would never bite". That would be like saying "this person would never punch". If cornered and threatened, any person will lash out. We're all capable of aggression and that's not a bad thing - it's an evolutionary skill and an important one.

When your dog is the victim of a bite, it can be very scary and upsetting. It's generally equally as traumatic to the other person and dog. Do everything you can to stay calm. Getting worked up and yelling at the other person simply adds fuel to the fire. 

  • First things first, separate the dogs safely. 
    • use caution when using a leash to do this (when dogs are on leash) - sometimes the biter still has a grip on the other dog and yanking can cause worse damage.
    • keep the dogs separated and away from other dogs as well
    • do NOT allow anyone to pet your dog - they are likely still in an overly aroused state and at high risk to bite
  • Immediately check both dogs for damage - run your hands over your own dog's body and check for any blood
    • administer first aid if required
    • not trained in Pet First Aid & CPR? Get trained!
  • Exchange information with the other dog guardian
    • if the other guardian leaves and you are unable to follow them, you can ask fellow passersby to help by following them and getting a license plate number or a clear picture of them and their dog
    • if no one is around to do this, consider security footage from surrounding businesses
    • take pictures of the damage to your dog
  • If skin is broken, visit your Veterinarian, who will: 
    • assess the damage
    • provide further care (cleaning and antibiotics
    • provide pain medication if required
    • potentially prescribe a fast-acting anti-anxiety medication to prevent the trauma from escalating in the dog's mind 
  • Report the bite to Animal Control
    • provide a description of the dog and person, including their contact information if you have it or a license plate, the time/date and location
    • provide witness contact information
    • provide photographic evidence of the damage and the veterinary bill
    • note the case number and caseworker for follow up
    • Note: You will not be responsible for the dog being euthanised. This is a very rare occurrence and not a likely outcome. The dog may get a warning, some education for the guardian, a muzzle order, and an order for training. That's more common. You'd be preventing the dog from attacking the next dog, which is a gift. 
  • Decompress. Both of you!
    • Adrenaline and Cortisol are high. It'll take both of you some time to decompress after an incident.
    • Recognise your dog's trauma even if they seem "fine" on the outside, if your pulse is still high, multiply that a few times and that's how your dog feels as the victim. Dogs are often stoic as a self-preservation or coping mechanism so we need to assume they are feeling more than they are showing. 
    • Give your dog a safe space to sleep and recover. They will often choose a place that is isolated and away from the household hustle and bustle, whether that is a crate or a snug corner on a couch. If possible (and if your dog prefers it), set aside some time to spend with them, quietly. Snuggle up together if they like that sort of thing and recover together. Sleep is HUGE in recovery, so allowing your dog to sleep as much as they want is important. If they seem to be sleeping less as a result, speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible as they can help.
    • Consider calming aids (with or without an anti-anxiety medication from your veterinarian)
    • Classical music - www.myzenpet.com is psycho-acoustically designed to calm dogs!
    • Adaptil (synthetic calming pheromone available from your vet in a diffuser or spray form)
    • Thundershirt (a snug-fitting shirt that tends to help dogs relax - only if your dog enjoys this feeling!)
  • Cortisol (stress hormone) can stay high in your dog's system for a good 3+ days. In light of this, it's important to keep things low-key for a few days.
    • Avoid the dog park and daycare for a few days to a week
    • Change group walks to private walks for a few days to a week
    • Keep walks short and sweet if you live in a busy area; stick to quieter more isolated routes if possible
    • Play games that will mentally stimulate your dog (stuffed food toys, scavenger hunts, food puzzles, trick training, backyard foraging for meals, etc)
    • Recognise that your dog may have a shorter fuse, so limit exposure to triggers and potential triggers, like children. Even if your dog is generally great with kids, they might feel stressed and more likely to snap even if they never did before.
    • Monitor for signs of pain in the coming week - slow movement, guarding affected parts of their body, lowered activity level, growling, snarling, snapping when approached or touched, etc. Any sign of pain needs to be assessed and treated by your veterinarian immediately. 

If after one week, your dog still has not returned to their normal self and are showing signs of anxiety, get in touch with us - do not delay! We can help.

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