Do I Need A Tetanus Shot After A Dog Bite?

Dog bites are common with millions of people across the world seeking medical attention for dog bite treatment yearly. Dogs are friendly but they are animals in nature and biting is part of their traits. Not all dog bites will lead to serious injuries but a percentage of cases on dog bites do lead to infections such as tetanus. If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important to determine whether you need a tetanus shot after all. This will help prevent the development of the bacterial infection and you can save yourself from a life-threatening disease. Dog bites are most common among children, but even adults can be bitten by dogs. As a matter of fact, most patients are bitten by dogs they know and not stray dogs.

There are a number of possible causes of tetanus apart from dog bites through which the bacteria can get into your body. They include;

  • Burns
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Tearing and splitting of skin
  • Eye injuries
  • Puncture wounds from body piercings, tattoos or from injecting contaminated drugs
  • Dental infections
  • Wounds contaminated with dirt or feces
  • Chronic sores and infections

Do I Need a Tetanus Shot after a Dog Bite?

Do I Need a Tetanus Shot after a Dog Bite?

Just because you have been bitten by a dog it does not imply you will develop tetanus. It is not common in dogs, but due to some explainable reasons, one can get tetanus from a dog bite. Tetanus causing bacteria, Clostridium tetani can be found in soil, animal waste and dust. If your dog has been playing outside on soil, then there is a chance it might have collected dirt containing the bacterium. Hence, if it happens to bite you, the resulting wound will act as an opening for the bacteria to invade your body. Dogs can also develop tetanus if they have open wounds which are left unattended. Since dogs love spending time outdoors, they may come across surroundings with the bacteria, which exposes them to the risk of a tetanus infection. Nevertheless, you cannot contract the illness from your dog because it is not contagious.

Why is Tetanus Shot Important after a Dog Bite?

To answer the question whether one needs tetanus shot after a dog bite, the simple answer would be yes. People who haven’t had a tetanus shot within a period of five years or more are at a greater risk of developing the infection. The shot can be administered within 72 hours of the bite before any symptoms start to show. A tetanus shot is important because it diminishes the chances of the bacterium from spreading and causing symptoms such as muscle spasms and stiffness. Other than that, you boost your immunity against tetanus and it is unlikely that you will succumb to the symptoms if they arise.

Treating Dog Bites

A dog bite needs to be treated by a professional because you may never know what bacteria you could have collected from the bite. If you were bitten by a stray dog, the bite is deep or won’t stop bleeding and there are signs of an infection, then those are enough reasons to get checked by a doctor. Otherwise, you can adopt some home remedies to care for the injury. You can do so by washing the bite with water and soap, dressing the bite with a sterile bandage and applying an antibiotic on the bite daily. When you visit a physician, make sure to give as much information about the dog and its bite to make it easier in administering proper treatment. Additionally, offer information about your health condition and any relevant past medical reports.


A tetanus shot is of important if you are bitten by a dog, step on a rusty nail on the ground or get a scrape from a contaminated sharp object. Tetanus is a serious condition that affects the nervous and it can lead to death if not controlled when diagnosed. The Clostridium tetani bacteria is present in soil and dust which you are in contact with from time to time. So, if you haven’t been immunized against tetanus or haven’t had a booster shot in a while, then there’s a likelihood you can develop the disease. Dog bites expose you to various infections through the bite where bacteria can get into your system.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 20, 2020

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