I was just released from the hospital Friday after treatment for a bite wound from a new patient. After 4 days of hospitalization, one emergency surgery, and twice daily self-administered wound care I can confirm what I have always said about dog bite wounds- they do serious damage. Whether to a human or another dog, the tissue damage from dog bite wounds can be extensive, painful, and potentially life-threatening even though, superficially it looks minimal.
My Practice Experience
After 38 years in practice, the conversation never changes when I am presented with a dog bite wound.
“Doc, this other dog got him here and it looks like just a couple of puncture wounds”
“Yes, but you can’t see the damage to the tissue underneath that will rot due to infection, cause intense pain and involve an area much bigger than the puncture wounds. The incision is going to be 3 times what you think is necessary.”
Sure enough after surgery, the dog looks like Frankenstein’s monster and the owner is sure I over-reacted.
My Bite Experience
“Doc it is just 2 puncture wounds. I have been bit before and antibiotics did the trick. Can you just kill the pain?”
“Dog bite wounds are serious and can cause massive tissue damage, gangrene, and require amputation. This needs immediate, serious care.” I will spare you the comedy of my treatment, but they were right. Kaiser has a 1-10 point scale for pain.
I was a 12-13 from admissions until the day before discharge. Thank goodness for Dilaudid (a morphine derivative) and Vicodin, for the pain was unbearable and I have family genetics for pain tolerance. I seldom know when I injure myself doing projects around the house.
The tissue damage: My 2 puncture wounds are a gaping 2 ½ inch ½ inch deep semi-circle at the base of my thumb exposing my hand muscles. When they lanced the abscess under the puncture wounds, the dead tissue left the trench. Fortunately, there was no nerve or muscle damage so my hand will be normal again.
The lesson for us all
Don’t ignore dog bite wounds and just hope the Neosporin does the trick. Schedule an appointment and have the injury evaluated.