My dog bit someone or another pet: What should I do?

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Do you have a fear in the back of your mind that your dog could bite another pet—or even worse—a person? Whether you've thought about it or not, it's always best to have a plan of action should it ever happen. If you are unsure of the steps to take if your dog bites another pet or a person, this helpful information may put you at ease in what is most certainly a stressful situation.

What should I do if my dog bites someone?

If you find yourself in an unpleasant predicament like this, it is important to remain as calm as possible and provide assistance to the victim whether you are in or outside your home.

If your dog bites a person while you are out walking your pet, the first thing you should do is immediately regain control of your dog. Then, make sure you provide your contact information to the victim and get his/hers as well. If there are any witnesses who saw the incident, be sure to obtain their contact information too.

If your dog bites someone in your home, place your dog in a crate or secure room. The victim may need professional medical assistance. Be aware of your nearest urgent-care facility and offer to call 911 if necessary. If your dog bites someone at home, supplies such as bandages and antiseptic skin cleanser can be useful for providing first aid in this kind of situation.

As difficult as this may be, the next step is to contact your local animal control office and inform them of the incident. They may instruct you to take additional action, and it's important that you comply. These measures vary between counties so you will need to contact the appropriate agency in your community.

If you don't have your dog's medical records on-hand, you should get them from your veterinarian as soon as possible. You'll need proof of your dog's current rabies vaccination, as it will likely be the most important medical detail the victim will want to have confirmed.

Be aware of potential legal consequences

Again, try to stay calm throughout the ordeal. Be helpful to the victim and document the incident as much as possible. There is the chance that the victim will pursue a civil suit against you, so consider consulting a legal professional.

You might not be able to completely avoid this situation, but there are some things that you can do to help prevent your dog from biting a person:

  • Enroll your dog in obedience training
  • Keep your dog leashed/muzzled when outdoors
  • Understand the body language of your pet

What should I do if my dog bites another pet?

Generally, the same principles described above apply when your dog bites another pet. There are a few minor exceptions:

  • When tending to the pet that has been bitten, remember that pets can bite when they are in pain.
    • If it's a dog, the victim should be muzzled to avoid further injuries.
    • Cats can be wrapped in a towel to protect yourself from being clawed.
  • Offer assistance to the owner of the other pet, such as volunteering to transport the pet to the nearest veterinary hospital.
  • As a courtesy and if able, some pet owners offer to pay for the veterinary fees associated with the bite.

Behavioral Training

It's advisable and advantageous to schedule an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist to discuss ways to prevent your dog from engaging in this type of behavior in the future. Your Banfield veterinarian will be able to recommend a local specialist to help you with aggression and other kinds of undesirable behavioral issue.

Learn More

For more information on behavioral issues, please read the behavior articles like the ones below or browse through our Pet Behavior center.