Get your Health question answered in 3 easy steps
A Doctor will be with you shortly
Ask a Doctor Now
183 Doctors are Online

What is the risk of infection after getting scratched by a dog ?

User rating for this question
Very Good
Answered by
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 3163 Questions
my son age 17, height 5'8", weight 140lbs was scratched by his friend's dog 2 hours ago. there are 2 nail marks and it also bleed a little. washed it with soap and but some first aid lotion on it. his friend's family says that the dog had all his vaccines. should my son take anti rabies shots or go see a doctor?
Posted Fri, 27 Apr 2012 in Vaccinations
Answered by Dr. Rhea Chanda 26 minutes later

Thanks for the query.

Its important to know where the dog bite occurred,as in which part of the body was involved.Also the wound has to be assessed.
The 3 main things to note here are site of injury,if there was damage to the underlying structures and infection.
The wound needs to be cleaned with fresh water and soap under a running tap for several minutes.Dont put anything on it till the wound has been assessed that there is no damage to the underlying structures.Leave it open if there is no bleeding.If there is,see a doctor immediately.

About the shots,if there in no indication that the attack was unprovoked,and the dog is available for observation,then anti rabies shots may not be needed.Esp if all the vaccines are up to date.Any signs of infection,like pus,discolouration etc from the site,seek medical help immediate.
Some doctors give antibiotics to prevent infection,so that can be done only after examination of the wound.

In my opinion,if the wound is superficial,on the limb,and there is no pain,bleeding etc then just wash with cold water and soap.
If the bite is on the arm,face etc then see a doctor.
Keep a watch on the dog to look out for signs like foaming at the mouth etc.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What is the risk of infection after getting scratched by a dog ? 2 hours later

It seems that I was not able to explain my question clearly. The most important point is that the wound is caused by claw/nail scratch and not by its teeth as THE DOG DID NOT BITE.

However the nail scratches are on the arm and both marks had little bleeding. Do you still suggest that we should see a doctor immediately?

The attack was definitely unprovoked and the dog is available for observation.

Kindly advise further course of action. What antibiotic would you recommend for prevention of infection? and would it be oral or topical.

Answered by Dr. Rhea Chanda 30 minutes later

Well, if the dog is available for observation, and as you say, has had all the necessary vaccinations that you need not see a doctor immediately.
The claws/nails of the dog carries many germs and risk of infection is high if not treated properly.
If the bleeding has stopped now,then observe for a day or so. Any signs of infection like pus, pain, fever, discoloration of the skin etc should be seen by a doctor immediately.
I would just go with over the counter topical antiseptics first. You can speak to the pharmacist.
Antibiotics should be oral if the topical would not help in 48 hours. You will have to get the prescription from a doctor,who examines your son.

Wash thoroughly first and leave it open.Dont cover it.
If you feel the need for prophylactic antibiotics for your comfort,then of course,do see a doctor.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Question is related to
Diseases and Conditions
Medical Procedures
Medical Topics

The user accepted the expert's answer

Ask a Pediatrician

© Ebix, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All the information, content and live chat provided on the site is intended to be for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with your doctor before you follow anything that you read on this website. Any health question asked on this site will be visible to the people who browse this site. Hence, the user assumes the responsibility not to divulge any personally identifiable information in the question. Use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions
Already Rated.
Your rating:

Ask a Doctor