Common Infections After A Dog Bite

Categories: Dog Bite

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Getting bit by a dog is a terrifying and traumatic experience, but it’s dangerous as well. When most people think about dog bite injuries, they often think about the damage to skin, muscle, and tissue from the attack. Many do not realize that one of the most dangerous things about a dog bite is not the injury itself, but the risk of infection.

In this post, we will go over the risk of infections from dog bites and how to treat dog bite infections. As a law firm that works with dog bite victims, we understand the dangers of dog bite infections. We created this post to help you learn more about dog bite infections. However, this is not medical advice. If you have been bit by a dog, we urge you to seek medical attention.

Common Dog Bite Infections

Some infections are more common than others after being bitten by a dog. Four of the most common dog bite infections include:

  • Capnocytophaga,
  • Staphylococcal,
  • Pasteurellosis, and
  • Rabies.

We will explore each of these dog bite infections in more depth below.


Capnocytophaga infections are seen more commonly in dog and cat bite cases. Although this bacteria does not pose a threat to animals, it can make humans sick, especially if you’re immunocompromised. Symptoms of a capnocytophaga infection include:

  • Blistering at the wound site;
  • Fever;
  • Redness, swelling, and pus around the wound;
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort;
  • Headache;
  • Confusion; and
  • Muscle or joint pain.

Symptoms of infection will typically show up within five days, but it can take up to 14 days in some cases. This infection could lead to sepsis, so please contact a medical professional if you believe you may have a capnocytophaga infection.


Staphylococcal (staph) dog bite infections are more common than capnocytophaga. These infections are typically mild, but they can become serious. Symptoms of a staph infection include:

  • Redness and swelling at the wound site,
  • Red streaks near the wound,
  • Pus at the wound site, and
  • Fever if the infection has spread.

Although staph infections are somewhat common, this does not mean you should ignore them. Staph infections can spread or cause cellulitis, a more severe skin infection. You may need to seek medical attention if you exhibit signs of a severe or spreading staph infection.


Pasteurellosis (pasteurella) is one of the most common infections after being bit by a dog or cat. Symptoms of pasteurellosis include:

  • Localized inflammation and redness at the wound site,
  • Abscesses and cellulitis in severe cases, and
  • Symptoms of a respiratory infection in the most severe cases.

Pasteurellosis is typically not a severe infection, but it can be. Severe infections could result in the infection spreading across the skin or causing respiratory issues. You may want to contact a medical professional if you believe you have signs of cellulitis or respiratory inflammation after a dog bite.


Rabies is the infection most people worry about after a dog bite. However, Rabies is not a bacterial infection, unlike the other conditions discussed above. Instead, it is a viral disease. Fortunately, rabies is relatively rare, but that said, rabies is an extremely serious and deadly disease. Early symptoms of rabies include:

  • Weakness,
  • Fatigue,
  • Fever, and
  • Headache.

But as the disease progresses, more severe symptoms occur, including:

  • Cognitive impairment,
  • Delirium,
  • Hallucinations,
  • Hydrophobia, and
  • Insomnia.

Once rabies has progressed to this stage, it is almost always fatal. Therefore, you should always seek medical attention if you believe you may have been bitten or scratched by an animal with rabies.

How Many People Die from Dog Bite Infections?

The good news is that most dog bite infections are not fatal. However, just because you have a good chance of surviving a dog bite infection, does not mean you should take them lightly. Severe capnocytophaga and rabies are often deadly diseases. Even less severe dog bite infections could cause serious complications. So please do not ignore signs of severe infection after a dog bite.

How to Prevent Dog Bite Infections

Cleaning and proper wound care, as discussed in the next section, are vital to preventing a dog bite infection. Some other steps which could help prevent a dog bite altogether include:

  • Always asking the owner before petting an unfamiliar dog,
  • Avoiding aggressive behavior towards dogs,
  • Presenting the backside of your hand and letting a dog sniff it before petting,
  • Not running up to dogs you don’t know, and
  • Reporting loose aggressive dogs to animal control.

The best way to avoid an infection is to not get bit. Be careful around dogs, especially if you are not familiar with a particular dog. Remember that all dogs have the ability to bite you, even the nice ones.

How to Treat Dog Bite Infections

The first thing you should do after a dog bite is to clean the area with soap and water. If you have an antibiotic cream, then you may want to apply it to the wound site as well. Once your visit is a medical professional, they may pursue other treatments depending on the severity of the wound. Possible treatments for a dog bite infection include:

  • Antibiotics,
  • Cleaning the wound site,
  • Tetanus and/or rabies shots, and
  • Stitches for the wound.

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that if you have been bitten by a dog, you should seek medical attention. Dog bite infections can be serious and should be treated accordingly.

Talk to a Lawyer Today

After getting bitten by a dog, your first priority should be to seek medical attention. Once you are safe, you may want to consider talking to a dog bite attorney. There are too many owners who still take their dangerous dog to parks, despite knowing the dog’s aggressive tendencies. These types of owners should be held accountable. Dog bites and dog bite infections can have devastating life-long complications. Our skilled and experienced team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC wants to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.