Usually dog bites are not life-threatening but they do require adequate medical attention. The moment a person is bitten by a dog, it is important to clean the bite wound thoroughly and apply basic first aid. Then take the person to a doctor where he will be given antibiotics, rabies vaccination and tetanus shot.
Typically tetanus shot after dog bite is neglected by people who think that you cannot get tetanus. But this is a misconception. Dogs can be carriers of tetanus bacterium through their saliva. Once the bacterium enters the body, it can result in tetanus, if a shot is not given to prevent it.
Dog bites are not sutured because of risk of infection. Instead the wound is properly cleaned. However, the possibility of the tetanus bacterium entering the body is still there between the time of the bite and cleaning of the wound. That is why all healthcare professionals will always advice you take tetanus shot along with rabies vaccination and antibiotics.
However, not everyone needs tetanus shot after dog bite. You do not need a tetanus shot if the last shot was taken less than 5 years ago. Children who received a booster tetanus shot less than 10 years ago also do not need to take another shot. On the other hand, if you have not received a tetanus shot in the last 5 years, make sure you take one if you are bitten by a dog. In addition, the tetanus shot should be given within 72 hours of being bitten.
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