Treating Dog Bite Wounds at Home: Our History
When Trooper was 2 years old, we lived in an area where several households allowed their dogs to run loose. We didn’t have a fence so Trooper spent a lot of time on a long lead attached to a stake in the ground. It was not the ideal situation. This one dog – a big, black, mean female named Kitty – often came around and caused trouble. On more than one occasion, she attacked Trooper (sometimes when he was attached to the lead). I won’t go into the details because they are sad.
Trooper has always been a sweet dog. This picture was taken when he was 1-2 years old and was clearly still allowed on furniture.
Learning to Live with Other Dogs
Many years later, Trooper and I spent a few months living in Cali. Trooper had matured into a wise, obedient dog who enjoyed calm play with other dogs but was very wary of large dogs and other dogs’ territory. He was not and still is not a button pusher. He doesn’t go out of his way to cause problems and I imagine it has something to do with a puppy-hood of social stress, wounds and fear.
As a young dog, Trooper lived with a few cats. While he occasionally harassed somebody for fun, he was largely respectful.
I rented a room in Cali in which lived two other dogs – a big lovable dog named Chief and a slightly worrisome doberman named Vita. Each had a separate owner. After a stressful first day of greeting, the dogs appeared to establish an order and routine and all was fine. Trooper loved Chief. The size difference was extreme so they didn’t play much – Trooper could walk right underneath Chief’s belly! Trooper gave Vita plenty of space, sometimes walking along the opposite side of a room in order to pass her. I don’t like to judge a dog by its breed, but she also worried me. She rarely engaged with the rest of us, did not walk around wagging her tail and often claimed the couch as her territory, giving her an elevated reign over Trooper.
Chief – Trooper’s best bud while we were in California.
The Big Dog Fight
One day, they were all three outside and I was getting ready to go to a meeting. Everything appeared fine…Vita peed on something, Trooper then peed on the same thing and then Chief added the final touch. Everything appeared normal. Then, out of the blue, something must have been said because all hell broke loose. Vita was relentlessly attacking Trooper. He was at a major size disadvantage and just kept trying to escape. Chief, not knowing what was going on, was barking and running at the duo. Shortly after, Chief appeared to join Vita’s side and started going for Trooper.
Vita – the queen of the house
This all happened very fast. I was running for the door as soon as I heard that telltale barking associated with Trooper angst. I got there as they were ganging up on him. I ran out, hollaring, my heart in my throat, trying to figure out what to do. It’s been about 3 years now and I can still feel the emotional turmoil of that day. It’s difficult to know what to do when it’s two big dogs on one small dog and here I was with no pants or shoes on to properly intervene.
My first thought after ‘oh *$&t what do I do,’ was ‘okay, become big!’ I lifted my arms and raised my voice, attempting for a deep timbre. Chief backed off but Vita kept trying to hold onto Trooper’s neck. Then, I looked around for something. I didn’t know what I was going to do but striking Vita was not out of the question. I don’t remember what I found but I do remember it was a totally useless object. I think it was floppy, like a bit of hose, but with something attached to the end. Whatever it was, I knew that it was not going to help dislodge Vita. I guessed, however, that I could scare everybody with it.
Between “Life on a lead” and “Horror in Cali”, Trooper lived with 2 dogs. This was his first multi-dog household and he adjusted immediately. The chemistry of the pack makes all the difference.
I took hold of it in both hands and raised my arms high over my head. With bold, confident steps I rushed at them yelling. I might have looked silly, but it broke them up! I tried to grab Trooper’s collar so I could get him inside but he snapped at me. I understood why and didn’t try again. In such an elevated stress state, everybody can seem like the enemy.
Instead of trying to ‘protect’ him, I just decided to scold everybody. I told Vita and Chief ‘no’ and then I told Trooper to ‘get inside’. When he didn’t move and the other two advanced, I used my body language pressure to push him toward the back door of the house and to keep the two at a distance.
When I got him inside, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and went into the kitchen to get a drink of water. Trooper was wagging nervously and his ears were down but he seemed okay. As I recovered in the kitchen, I started to think about my day again. I turned back to Trooper to get him ready for his morning’s walk and discovered blood all over the floor. I should have thought to check him for wounds but I was in recovery mode myself and not ready to address what could be a serious situation.
All (internal) hell broke loose at that point. I started shaking and crying. I couldn’t get to the wounds because of Trooper’s thick coat. I got him into the tub and tried to rinse the bloody spots to see how bad it was. No luck. I couldn’t see a thing! The wounds kept bleeding. Now frustrated and scared, I did the only thing I could think of to help give me direction: I called my mom.
My mom is a really special person who has an amazing ability to stay calm and address situations with a rational outlook.
My Mom and I in Anacortes, Washington (~ 2010).
She was also present for each and every one of Trooper’s wounds as a puppy and so has an understanding of what constitutes a ‘go to the vet’ sort of bite. After calming down the more hysterical of the two (me), she suggested we go to the vet.
So – Trooper had two bites, they bled a lot and were both puncture wounds. That was February 6, 2012 and the vet bill was $131.62. At that point, I needed the expertise provided by the vet and the money was well spent calming us both (mostly me) down.
After the vet visit, I took Trooper with me to work. He stayed with me all day – doped up and resting.
I’ve now dealt with a number of dog bite wounds, puncture wounds, at-home dog care, and emotional trauma associated with a wounded, beloved pet. When Trooper was a puppy, we automatically went to the vet, who was located 1 mile down the street. With the 2-on-1 dog fight and the almost-didn’t-happen vet visit (they initially told me they wouldn’t be able to see him for 2 days!), I made sure to ask a lot of questions and thus learned all about treating wounds.
These experiences led up to the confidence I now have with treating dog bite wounds at home. Knowledge is power. And the internet is a great source of information to build your knowledge bank. Coming up next – Sydney’s bite and how we treated the puncture wound at home.