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What are common complications of a dog bite?

Many people brush off dog bite incidences as unfortunate yet harmless accidents, ones from which victims can recover with a little bit of Neosporin, a band aid and an upbeat attitude. Unfortunately, as you may well know, dog bites can and do result in complications.

According to Healthline, dog bites can cause numerous complications, which range from infections to nerve damage. While you can reduce the risk of complications by cleansing the wound and seeking medical attention as soon after the bite as possible, you should remain vigilant for warning signs of more common dog bite risks.


A dog bite can introduce dangerous bacteria into your body and result in serious infections, the likes of which can become fatal if left untreated. Though thousands of different types of bacteria can live in a dog’s mouth, some of the most worrisome include Pasteurella, staphylococcus and capnocytophaga.


Two diseases that are most commonly transmitted via dog bites include rabies and tetanus. Rabies is a grave viral condition that attacks the central nervous system. If left untreated in humans, it can become deadly within days.

Tetanus is another potentially deadly disease that dogs transmit via bites. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects the nerves and hinders one’s ability to breathe. There is no cure for it, though adequate treatment can help manage symptoms.

Nerve and muscle damage

Depending on where on the body the dog bit and how deep the bite went, a bite can result in muscle, nerve and blood vessel damage. Though rare, nerve and muscle damage can also occur when the wound appears shallow.

Broken bones and fractures

Bites by large dogs can result in broken, fractured and splintered bones. Breaks and fractures most commonly occur in the hands, feet and legs.

Dog bites can be dangerous, or even fatal. Because the risk of developing complications is real, Healthline encourages you to wash wounds as soon after the incident as possible with warm water and a topical antibiotic; to keep the wounds covered and clean; to keep an eye on the wound and your health for up to 14 days after the incident; and to see your doctor right away if you notice signs of infection.

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