• Joanne Bibby

Dog Bite Injury

Dog Bite Injury

Why do dogs attack each other?

The following reasons can help you understand why a dog may become aggressive and bite or attack.

  • Pain from an injury

  • Feeling threatened or fearful

  • Establishing dominance with the other dog

  • Protecting their home or possessions

  • Medical conditions including dementia

Consequences of a dog attack

Injuries sustained during a dog fight or attack can be:

  • Life-threatening; or

  • Cause permanently disability - emotionally and/or physically.

The types of injuries from a dog bite can vary, all while leaving bacteria and other organisms in its wake, which spreads infection deep below the skin surface into underlying tissues, they are:

  • Tearing of skin and muscles;

  • Deep tissue damage;

  • Crushing of bone;

  • Lung collapse or

  • Serious organ damage leading to death.

Sometimes, a bite might not even be noticeable, especially on dogs with thick coats, where simple puncture wounds seem minor, however below the surface serious infection could be ravaging your dog’s body.

Behavioural Signs

You may think that a dog turns aggressive without warning, but there are many signs a dog gives before attacking or breaking into a fight. By learning the following signs, you will arm yourself with an invaluable knowledge that you can take with you when you head out for a walk; swim at the beach; play off leash at the park or when your own dogs are at play.

Warnings to become familiar with.

  • Dog displays a stiff body

  • You may see dog’s hackles raised (hair stands on end from neck down back)

  • Tail wagging stiffly

  • Dog makes direct eye contact

  • Pupils become dilated (black part of eyes become large)

  • Ears flatten and look pinned back

  • The dog may snarl, growl and/or bar teeth

  • A bark that sounds guttural and threatening

  • Lunging forward or charging at the other dog with no contact

  • “Muzzle punch” (the dog literally punches the other dog with their nose)

Safety Precautions

  • When on leash and before introducing your dog to another, ask the owner/pawrent if your dog can meet theirs; you may be told that their dog isn’t particularly friendly.

  • If you are going off leash, check out the other dogs: type, size, body language to assess if your dog will be safe; if ever in doubt leave the off leash area;

  • Never place yourself between two dogs;

  • Don’t approach roaming dogs (those who have escaped their home);

  • If you have a towel or blanket, throw it over the face of the attacking dog, it may cause the dog to release if the dog cannot see, then quickly remove your dog if at all possible;

  • If you have a sick / injured dog in the home keep them separated from other household pets;

  • Assess the dog - Assess the environment.

If you are fearful of your dog being attacked, do not take them to an off leash area.

Signs & Symptoms

You may see the following signs and symptoms on a dog who has been in a fight or a victim of attack.

  • Severe uncontrollable bleeding

  • Open wounds from tearing or ripping of skin and muscle

  • Breathing difficulties, rapid yet shallow

  • Gums appearing pale or blue

  • Crying or whining

  • Damage to eyes, ears, mouth, neck

  • Injury to leg joints causing obvious limping or inability to walk

  • Collapse

  • Shock

  • Respiratory distress to complete cardiac arrest

If your dog has been severely shaken they may have suffered brain damage and act unpredictably and aggressively


1. Undertake Primary Assessment DRSABC.

a. Check for Dangers – a danger may be that your dog will become aggressive towards you (warning: never put a muzzle on a dog who has breathing difficulties); the attacking dog may still be present and turn attention towards you.

b. Is your dog responding to your voice or your touch? If not your dog may be unconscious

c. Send for help; if there is someone else in the house get them to do things like get the first aid kit, help carry dog into house, prepare the car and call the Vet. They may also be able to help you restrain your dog or help manage the wounds

d. Check the airway for vomit in the mouth, remove if there is; look to see if the airway is intact or swollen

e. Check the breathing (respirations) feel / watch the rise and fall of the chest – start artificial respiration if not breathing

f. Check circulation (pulse) – start CPR if no pulse

2. If your dog has been violently shaken treat for potential spinal injury and limit movement.

3. Apply pressure to stop severe bleeding for approximately 3 minutes.

4. Place a sterile wound pad on the site/s and secure in place.

5. If you see blood soak through the pad, do not remove, simply place another bandage on top and secure in place.

6. Stabilise fractures.

7. Stabilise eye injuries.

8. Treat for shock - elevate dog’s rear end, even whilst in the car and keep warm.

9. Monitor breathing and heart rate throughout entire process you may need to commence artificial respiration or CPR at any time.

10. Get to vet.


canine emergency dog first aid guide

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