angry-dog-baring-teeth | RI Dog Bite LawyerYou, or your child, were outside walking, playing in the yard, talking to a neighbor, or maybe simply enjoying some fresh air when an ordinary day turned into a medical emergency. A dog that wasn't yours bit you or your child. You may have had immediate concerns about pain, bleeding, and scarring, but those aren't the only risks from dog bite injuries. You could also suffer a severe infection.

At Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum, our Rhode Island dog bite lawyers want to help you get the full and fair recovery you deserve after any dog bite injury.

Types of Dog Bite Infections  

Dog bites may introduce harmful bacteria into the body, leading to infections that can range from mild to severe. Here are some common types of infections that can result from dog bites:


Rabies is a viral infection that can be transmitted through a dog bite. Initial symptoms may mimic flu-like symptoms. However, as the infection progresses, neurological symptoms such as confusion, hallucinations, and paralysis may develop. Rabies can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention.


A tetanus infection may occur if bacteria enters a dog bite wound. Tetanus is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms of this type of infection may include muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, and difficulty swallowing.


Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can develop due to a dog bite. It typically begins with symptoms around the bite area and, if left untreated, can lead to more severe complications. 

Cellulitis symptoms may include:

  • Redness 
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Pain and tenderness

Untreated cellulitis can cause serious illnesses, including:

  • Fever
  • Skin abscesses
  • Infection that spreads to surrounding tissues and enters the bloodstream

Staph Infections

Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as staph, is another type of bacteria that can cause infections when introduced through a dog bite. While many staph infections are minor, they can escalate into more severe conditions if not properly managed. Some staph infection symptoms include:

  • Pus-filled blisters
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever

Severe staph infections may lead to:

  • Bloodstream infections which can cause life-threatening sepsis
  • Pneumonia from staph infections in the lungs
  • Bone infections which can lead to a chronic condition known as osteomyelitis

Pasteurella Infections

Pasteurella bacteria are commonly found in the mouths of dogs and cats, and they can cause infections when introduced through a bite. Pasteurella symptoms include:
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands

Pasteurella infections may be mild but can cause complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, cellulitis, and other medical conditions. 


Capnocytophaga is a type of bacteria that can be transmitted through dog bites. Symptoms of a capnocytophaga infection can manifest as:
  • Blisters
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Drainage
  • Tenderness at the site of the wound

In more severe cases, individuals may experience gangrene, a condition that obstructs blood flow to the limbs, resulting in the death of body tissue. In instances where toes, fingers, or other limbs have been deprived of adequate blood flow for a significant duration, amputation may be necessary. 

What to Do if You or Your Child Suffer a Dog Bite Infection in Rhode Island 

Facing a dog bite infection can be overwhelming, but taking immediate steps can significantly mitigate the risks and ensure a faster recovery. Accordingly, we encourage you to:

Clean the wound

Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover the wound with a clean bandage.

Seek medical attention

Regardless of the severity of the bite, consult a health care professional to assess the risk of infection and determine if additional treatment is needed.

Document the incident

Keep records of the incident, including any photos of the dog or information about the dog or dog's owner. Additionally, it's essential to keep photos of the bite and receipts or documents related to any medical treatments received. 

Report the dog bite

If the dog bite occurred in Rhode Island, report the incident to local animal control or law enforcement.

Consult a dog bite lawyer

If the infection results in medical expenses, pain, and suffering, consult an experienced Rhode Island dog bite attorney to learn about Rhode Island dog bite laws, explore your legal options, and protect your rights.

Christopher L. Russo
Helping Rhode Island personal injury victims for nearly three decades to get the compensation they deserve.