Many people feel that their family is not complete without a dog. With playful personalities and naturally loyalty, dogs undeniably make great pets for children, teaching them independence and responsibility for caring for another creature. However, it’s important to remember that dogs are pack animals armed with a powerful set of jaws, and as such there is always the risk of an attack in a high-stress situation, even from smaller dogs. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to discover that their child has suffered a dog attack. To help you out in this stressful time, here is what to do if your child has been bitten by a dog.

Seek assistance

Ideally, you will need several people present to help deal with the aftermath of a dog attack: someone to restrain the dog, preferably the owner; someone to calm the child; and someone to contact the emergency services if needed. These people can also act as witnesses if you decide to pursue a compensation claim.

Seek medical assistance

As soon as the child and the dog have been separated, either clean and dress the wound yourself, and then seek medical assistance, or contact 911 immediately. Dog bites can range in severity from superficial cuts and scratches to permanent scarring and life-changing injuries; dog attacks on very young children can even prove to be fatal. The hospital will clean and dress the injury, and provide you with information on any further treatment that might be required. Your child will also receive any necessary vaccinations to help prevent infections picked up during the attack, such as tetanus, from taking hold.

Decide if you want to pursue legal action

Sometimes dog attacks are unprecedented; at other times, they could have been entirely avoidable. You might feel that the attack on your child was due to owner negligence, for instance, because of the owner allowing an aggressive dog to roam unleashed, or them not having a sturdy enough fence to contain their dog. If this is the case, you might want to consider pursuing legal action against the dog’s owner using an award winning dog bite lawyer. Money awarded in compensation claims can be put towards further medical treatment for the injury that you may struggle to afford otherwise.

Consider therapy for your child

A dog bite is both physically and mentally traumatic, and some people have developed PTSD after experiencing a dog attack. These mental scars might be even more acute in a child, who does not fully understand what has happened, particularly if they previously had a good relationship with the dog. They might develop a phobia of dogs, which can be tricky to navigate when encountering dogs at a park, for instance, or if your family owns one as a pet. You could consider seeking professional help from a therapist, who will help your child to work through their traumatic experience and understand that what happened to them was a freak accident, that dogs on the whole are friendly and loving and nothing to be afraid of.