Dog germs! How best to treat small punctures from dog bites? (Needed answer fast)

See query, dramatic pix from when I got home (viewer discretion advised).

I found a bottle of rubbing alcohol, poured it on, and then applied a schmear of souped-up Bacitraicin-plus-other-stuff, which SerenDipitously enough I just bought to fight doggie-scritches-self doggie germs.

Anyway, my question still stands, and actually applies to all these types of wounds just slightly above and beyond an abrasion, where a pinhead-size open wound persisted:

Is it a bad idea to use first tap water–relatively full of nastiness–or tap water and soap and then rinse, or not?

Two questions:

Is this your dog, whom you know for sure to be up-to-date on all vaccines (including the new canine influenza shot, if you live in the area where it’s active)?

Are you up-to-date on your tetanus shot?

If the answer to those both is “Yes,” then with the caveat that IANAD, I’ll tell you that I once treated a small wound like this by using a syringe, which you can get at the drug store, for administering liquid medication, and squirting triple antibiotic ointment into the wound until it oozed back out. This was after I had washed it and swabbed it with Bactine. Bandaged it. The next morning, I uncovered it, planning to treat it with the syringe again, but it actually had healed a bit, and I would have had to open it to squirt more antibiotic into it. It was not red around the edges, not oozing, not warm to the touch, not painful. I swabbed ointment over it, rebandaged.

It healed completely in about a week. No scar.

Now, had it, the next day, been red, OR oozing, OR warm, OR painful to touch, I would have gone to the doctor, because I figured I probably needed oral antibiotics. I needed them for a cat bite once. Now I just let the cat have the mouse.

Again, IANAD. If any of the doctors here on the board tells you differently, ignore what I just posted.

IMHO you should be good to go–rinse off the big stuff with cleaner-than-most-countries’ tap water, disinfect with hydrogen peroxide (I dunno about dumping rubbing alcohol on an open wound, seems bad), slather with antibiotic goo, go make dinner.

But it’s probably like leaving pizza on the counter overnight: suboptimal procedure, but super rare real-world instances of bad results.

Just lick the wound, that’s what my dog did when I bit him.

I’ve been bit by dogs a fair few times in my tenure volunteering at my local shelter. I usually just wash really well with soap and water, pour hydrogen peroxide or alcohol over it, and bandage if needed, like if it’s still bleeding. Then I keep an eye on it. If it gets hot or looks infected I would go to the doctor, but that’s never happened.

I do keep my tetanus shot up to date, but I’m not sure you can get tetanus from a dog.

You can get tetanus from any dirty puncture wound.

I agree with the tetanus shot. But general first aid should be ok. I had a slashing dog bite that needed stitches. But the other wounds from the same incident were treated with hydrogen peroxide the first time and bactricin or Neosporin and bandaides. The slash bite was hard to heal. Took about a month to really heal up. Make sure your tetanus is good.
ETA cat bites are worse.

Way, way worse. My husband let one go once (against my advice), and ended up with a badly infected hand that he couldn’t use for a week while he took really strong antibiotics.

And he was doing the same dumb thing I did (again, against my advice-- the voice of experience): trying to rescue a mouse. Just let the cat have the mouse. You could end up losing a hand.

Another vote for washing well w/ soap and water and rinsing the wound w/ hydrogen peroxide until the bubbling stops; repeat that every few hours till scabbing; ice the area intermittently and take ibuprofen if there’s pain today/overnight. If the area of the wound starts to feel hot or you develop redness that spreads (it’s good you have your photos for reference) you must get medical care. It’s good you already applied antibiotic ointment, keep it up.
Your hand and wrist will be sore tomorrow, maybe the day after from the impact of the bite. If there’s sharp pain, get medical care.
W/ all the tendons and little bones you have in that part of your body, you’re lucky the bite wasn’t worse, or you’d be facing surgery. I’d keep the wounds covered as best you can considering you probably need to use your hand; Kroger has a box of generic large bandaids for less than 2 bucks.

I totally agree. I have had my share of dog nips from fosters and the shelter, healed up pretty quick. But the one cat bite I got put me to bed on high dose antibiotics. It was sore a month or more.

100% correct. Partly because of the germs in cats’ mouths but mostly because of the nature of the bite. Dog bites tend to be wide and shallow, easy to wash out effectively. Just running water is fine, no need for alcohol or hydrogen peroxide both of which may do more harm than good. Cat bite tend to be deeper narrow puncture wounds and cleaning out the base is well nigh impossible. Augmentin is indicated as a pre-emptive strike for a cat bit, washing out alone is usually enough for a dog one.

Looking at that pic it seems very superficial. Wash off and save the alcohol for your beverage of choice.

My go-to is a good washing, a soak in hydrogen-peroxide, antibiotic ointment and a bandage. As long as I know the animal and its shot record.

In the ER, a dog bite to the hand gets Augmentin to cover Pasturella.

There’s a useful instructional video on youtube for how to handle this situation.

Huh. Different than I learned it as, barring compromised host factors or very specific bite locations, the risk of infection from a dog bite is quite low. See for example this article

We would not treat in the office setting anyway. You know your side of the world better than I do though.

Older people with thin skin are more susceptible to infection from dog scratches than bites I think. I have found running hot tap water over the wound will usually kill the infection pretty fast if it hasn’t spread or gotten too deep. You don’t want the water hot enough to cause a burn but as hot as you can stand it without causing a burn.

A microbiologist once told me: the solution to bacterial pollution is dilution. For the wound in the picture, just cleaning/flushing with copious amounts of water. For a cat bite I’d follow up with some hot water soaks. I’d never use alcohol, which is cytotoxic.

BTW: rubbing alcohol? What is being rubbed, and why?

I’d consider a puncture wound on the hand to be high risk of infection. Also, since we don’t have an ongoing relationship with our patients in the ER, I always assume they aren’t going to follow up and err on the side of caution.

OP here, now reporting after a touch-and-go night, when I felt inexorably drawn to this distant white light, but resisting I said to myself, “No! I must return, for I have SD IMHO people who must know!”

All hunky-dory (pix on request), and now I have a blood blister on one place which looks like a tick, and now I want to look up what a blood blister is, just on general principle, not that I’m overcome with dread. (Any answers here?)

Before I return to the most interesting part of OP, for me, an answer and a question…

The pooch was mine, all up to date, and although for a second I needed to make sure which dog got me (the other one is also up to date), I finally decided based on this interesting event: after I reached into the overturned beehive of snarls and fur–I spotted a clear-enough entry point to snatch his collar–I felt the uh-oh moment, and in that nth-second, when I knew I was being for real bitten and feeling the pressure and pain and nerve tingle around my wrist, I remember my reaction was 1) dog bite 2) wait and expect the full crunch pain and the maybe-broken bones and bad bleeding.

Exactly then the pressure began to ease up, the way I’ve felt it a million times when roughhousing with the pooch. I’m sure, or I’d like to think, he knew instinctively the what-ever he was chomping was in the no-chomp zone.


Rivka, the new canine influenza–yes he did get shots, and are you referring to what everybody in NYC calls the Brooklyn Flu, brought over here to Manhattan by hipsters/ L- and, even worse, G-line subways?

As to OP. The question, broadly, is when and when not to use tap water. (Also, as long as you’re here, what the deal is between rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.)

I ask because I was both trauma’d and traumatized after age nine (1968) I accidentally shattered glass, and the shards rocketed into my now blinded left eye. As it happens, immediately after the accident, I ran home and against the pain and for what I honestly figured was hygienic first-aid, I put my eye under a gentle stream of water from the tap. (Then, FWIW, didn’t tell anybody till my family came home because I had done a Bad Thing and was afraid of the consequences.)

Anyway, to add to the trauma, a massive infection showed up, and the doctors said they had expected me to be blinded in both eyes, and saying that that nice consequence was because of the tap water.

Any general answers? I know that slight puncture wounds and shattered eye globes are different, but still.

It’s all I had, and presume it is not hospitable to nasties. It’s like you’re supposed to use a weak bleach solution to clean your cutting board and sink from food-borne nasties, but I just pour a ton of vinegar after soaping and call it a day.

Also, FWIW and FTR, the mohel performing the bris for my father poured brandy first over his foreskinned schmendrik, as they did god knows how many centuries before that.

And no, no rubbing was involved, which of course is a segue to the famous wallet joke, which I will tell only on request.