Author Topic: Aftermath of a dog bite  (Read 459 times)

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Offline New Jawn

Aftermath of a dog bite
« on: August 01, 2021, 11:32:26 am »
Assume you're riding in the Middle of Nowhere and you're bitten by a dog.  Then what?  If there is a house nearby, do you go to the door and politely ask if they have liability insurance and to see Fido's vaccine records?  I'd be hesitant to do so because not only are you now on the dog's turf, but I would suspect that anyone letting their dog run free really won't be much fun to talk to.

So do you ride to nearest town, get whatever med. care in needed, contact cops and let them know you need rabies vaccine record?  Do cops handle that type of thing?

I haven't faced this problem, but I'm planning on a 1,800 mile trip starting May 2022, and fear of dogs comes in only second to fear of cars.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2021, 01:01:42 pm »
In over 50 years of riding I have yet to have a dog break skin while riding - but if I did:

1. I would take a picture of the dog
2. Take a picture of the wound
3. Take a picture of the location and/or presumed home of the dog
4. Pour hand sanitizer into the wound
5. Call 911 and report or request medical assistance if needed

A dog's barks is USUALLY worse than their bite.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2021, 01:15:12 pm by HikeBikeCook »
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline wildtoad

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2021, 01:05:14 pm »
Hi New Jawn,

In my opinion, it's good practice to contact the animal control officer/authority in the relevant jurisdiction in all cases of a dog bite. Where I live (California), animal control officers are associated w/ the local police department (for incorporated cities) or the relevant County Sheriff (unincorporated "middle of nowhere" areas).

Getting a bite wound looked at is always a good idea, particularly if there are unknowns re vaccine issues.  Initially, however, it's important that you take some immediate actions not only to stop bleeding but to prevent infection.  Infections are the most common problem that animal bite victims run in to.  If you enjoy self-contained cycling/bikepacking/hiking etc. trips and want to invest in yourself, I strongly recommend taking a 16 hour NOLS Wilderness First Aid course.  Invaluable and mandatory for such activities IMO.

As to prevention, I carry a legal quantity (per CA law) of pepper spray on the bike at all times.  Usually either in my pocket or in outer pocket of stem/feed bag.  Very accessible location is best.  On a wilderness trip, I also carry legal folding knife in similarly accessible location.  And accessories like clickstands, etc. can be useful in fending of dogs in some situations. 

Cheers.

Offline wildtoad

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2021, 01:16:17 pm »
Irrigating w/ drinkable water is the best way to clean a wound.  Do not recommend hand sanitizer in open wound.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2021, 02:06:58 pm »
"drinkable" water is a rather lose definition. Have you looked at water under a magnifying glass? ER's I have been in usually use a peroxide flush, but not too many of us carry that on our bikes. I am not a medical professional, so cannot make any recommendations, but I have been using hand sanitizer for almost 20 years on cuts, scrapes, road rash etc., and, aside from the initial burn, have had no negative side effects.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline jwrushman

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2021, 03:16:42 pm »
Drinkable water is fine.  Initially, quantity is important.  You're not trying to sterilize the site, you're trying to flush away what ever you can.  Soap is good too.  Depending on the type of wound, cleaning can be a challenge.  Puncture wounds are more problematic.  Clean off as much as you can. 

Three things need to be addressed:
   
   1) Your tetanus status.  For clean wounds, 10 years is the limit.  For dirty wounds, five years.  Bite wounds are dirty.  If you don't know, and don't have an easy way to find out you status, just get the shot.

   2) Rabies status - Gotta get this info.  If you're bitten by a stray or a dog that runs away and you're unlikely to be able to find the owner, your stuck and you're going to need rabies prophylaxis (rabies immune globulin (weight based) and the rabies vaccine, series of four shots on Days 0, 3, 7 and 14).  So you're going to need to be near towns large enough to have a clinic that carries rabies vaccine.  This is the most important reason for contacting the owner, 911 or animal control.   If untreated, rabies is fatal.  Determining the status is not emergent, but urgent.   My understanding is that some foreign countries do not routinely stock rabies immune globulin.   If going to a remote place, you may wish to discuss with your PMD (or a Travel Medicine specialist), the advisability of pre-exposure prophylaxis.

   3) Risk of infection - Dog bites may not be as bad as human bites and cat bites, but all bites are risky.  Most important is to clean the site impeccably.   If the site does become infected, the oral antibiotics needed are ones that are typically readily available.  Augmentin is the standard unless you have a penicillin allergy.

Offline wildtoad

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2021, 11:00:51 am »
"Drinkable" water is the term used by First Aid/Wilderness First Aid training organizations to describe the best way to clean a wound. It's a simple term, not a loose definition. The good thing for bicycle tourists is that they should have such water on their bike readily available (if they don't, then they are in bigger trouble than just a bite :)).

Anecdotal success w/ hand sanitizer is well and good. It won't kill you. Just reupped my Wilderness First Aid cert last weekend and the instructors expressly advised against hand sanitizer in particular for wound cleaning (based on curriculum as well as their decades of individual experience in the field). It kills bad stuff but also kills the good things that promote healing. And there can be additive products that you don't really want in an open would that can lead to irritation, allergic reactions for some, etc.  Bottom line, the stuff isn't made for the application. But if it's all you have, then I would use it.

Excellent follow on comments re rabies by jwrushman. Based on a few situations that I'm aware of, it's often best to have LE/animal control run the interference w/ the owner to get the relevant information....if it's even possible.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2021, 11:22:59 am »
Wildtoad -

Great info, thanks for the update. It sounds like the wilderness first aid is a great course.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline TCS

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2021, 11:58:37 am »
The mostly likely way a loose dog will injure a cyclist is not by biting them but by causing them to wreck.

Even a small terrier can cause a cyclist to wreck if it launches itself at speed against the front wheel.
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline wildtoad

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2021, 01:30:56 pm »
Definitely agree, TCS. I've had a couple of close calls w/ dogs almost causing me to go down. In some cases, it may be better to simply stop and put your loaded bike between you and the dog and take actions to scare off the dog.  Highly dependent on terrain, type of dog, etc.  It's a tactic used by some mountain bikers w/ whom I've discussed trail safety issues with (some also carry pepper spray and certain "gardening" implements LOL).

Bites do happen. A cycling acquaintance of mine was bitten while mountain biking up in the Sierras. He was also knocked off the bike of course. This was on National Forest singletrack in an "interface" area close to homes. A neighbors dog got loose accidentally and the rest is history. Don't remember all the details, but things worked out...dog was vaccinated, sheriff was called, bite wasn't too bad, otherwise uninjured but shaken up, etc.  Don't recall what happened to the dog.

Offline ray b

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2021, 05:48:17 pm »
Well summarized by WildToad et al., above.

Fortunately, actual bites are rare, but I've seen some ugly calf wounds.

Irrigation of a wound is always a good start, but are not necessarily one's top priority, and might not be possible with simple puncture wounds. This step can be delayed until one's safety is assured.

Unfortunately, a dog bite requires involvement of law enforcement, which in some areas might include an animal control officer, and often emergency medical services.

Calling 911 from the scene might be helpful to local LE as they can pinpoint your location and advise on how to proceed. Both dog and owner might already be known to them. Leaving the public property of the road to approach an owner on private property might not be the best first step.....
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline New Jawn

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2021, 11:40:11 am »
Thanks to all for the input.  I missed the obvious -- stopping where it happens and calling 911.

I'm sure there are numerous threads on dog defense, but the one that is most appealing to me is an air horn.  I've 9 mths to chew on the problem (pun intended), but I'm thinking that using chemical spray on a charging dog might deter the dog but provoke a redneck owner.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Aftermath of a dog bite
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2021, 11:47:07 am »
FWIW, I nailed some dogs with HALT! (mailman's pepper spray for dog) on the TransAm.  More dogs had figured out the 6' effective radius, and circled me at a distance of 6'3".

As for calling 911, do it!  Way back in the last millenium, I was bitten by a dog while I was in high school.  Luckily it was more of a scraping bite than nailing me with his canines, so I rode the half a mile home, washed it well, and bandaged it, and forgot about it.  About a year later, that dog caught a first grade boy and maimed him badly.  If I'd called the cops when I got bit, there's at least a chance that boy would have children now.