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What infections can dog bites cause?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Blog, Dog And Animal Bites |

Dogs are popular pets for good reasons. These tail-wagging family members are adorable and loyal in equal measure. The joy they bring into people’s lives is impossible to quantify.

Despite all this, canines can be a potential health risk. Various infections may result from a seemingly harmless bite, each of which can lead to serious health concerns.

Bacterial infections

Dog bites sometimes expose individuals to harmful bacteria, with Pasteurella being one of the most common forms. These bacteria thrive in a dog’s mouth and can cause infection within hours. Symptoms include redness, swelling and white or yellow discharge. In severe cases, bacterial infections lead to cellulitis, a painful skin condition that requires prompt attention.

Capnocytophaga infections

While relatively uncommon, Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a bacterium sometimes found in the mouths of even healthy dogs. This bacterium can potentially infect humans, particularly those with weakened immune systems. Telltale signs range from fever and chills to more severe complications such as sepsis.


Rabies is a viral infection that poses a significant threat. Fortunately, rabies in domesticated dogs living in developed countries is particularly rare. This is especially true in the U.S., where most states require owners to give their fur babies rabies vaccines once every three years. Despite this, a small portion of the population fears these vaccines are harmful, so they refuse to comply.


Tetanus, caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, is another possible consequence of a dog bite. While the risk of tetanus is low, the bacteria can enter the body through open wounds, including those from dog bites. Making sure your tetanus vaccination is up-to-date remains a wise safety measure.

While the bond between humans and their dogs is unbreakable, everyone must recognize the dangers associated with bites from four-legged friends. Seeking a doctor’s care, cleaning wounds thoroughly and looking out for signs of infection are fundamental to safeguarding one’s health after such an incident.

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