Common Dog Bite Bacteria that Leads to Dangerous Infections

    When a dog bite causes personal injury to the victim, the physical signs of harm are often attended to first. Cleaning and bandaging the wound takes priority. However, if you or someone you know is a dog bite victim, it is so important to seek immediate medical attention in order to assess the risk of infections that can be caused by various bacteria present in the saliva of dogs. There are many risk factors associated with dog bite infections, so even if you believe the bite is a minor wound and can be properly handled with at-home care, you may not be able to assess the risk of infection on your own. The long-lasting implications of letting these bacterial infections go unaddressed can be devastating. In this blog, we’re diving into the infections and types of bacteria associated with dog bites.

    How Infections Occur: The Basics

    Infections occur when germs enter the body, increase in number, and elicit a reaction from the body. Germs are found everywhere including in the air, soil, water, and inside our own bodies.  Some types of germs are helpful to us, while others can cause harm. Many different kinds of germs actually live within our bodies and help us stay healthy instead of causing harm. Only a small percentage of germs are known to be harmful to us and cause infections.

    In order for an infection to occur, three factors are necessary. First, there must be a source where infectious germs live. Common sources include household surfaces, human skin, and the mouths of dogs. Next, there must be a susceptible person with a way for germs to enter the body. Third, there must be a transmission, where the germs are moved from the source to the susceptible person.

    In the case of dog bite wounds (as well as cat bites and most other types of animal bites) transmission occurs when the germs in and around a dog’s mouth penetrate the skin through puncture wounds and enter the bloodstream of the victim. Dog bite injuries are a special type of injury that often require extra medical attention due to the risk of infection and other diseases such as rabies.

    Bacteria and Infections Resulting From Dog Bites


    There are many different types of infections a dog bite victim could possibly contract.

    One example is rabies, an extremely rare virus that attacks a person’s central nervous system. The mortality rate of rabies is the highest of any known disease in the world, with 99.9% of cases proving fatal. Rabies is caused by neurotropic viruses in the family Rhabdoviridae, of the genus Lyssavirus.  These are a form of virus that attacks the saliva and nervous system and causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Symptoms of rabies are mild at first and include low-grade fevers, headaches, fatigue, and muscle weakness. As the disease progresses, symptoms will become more intense and can include insomnia, nausea/vomiting, anxiety, confusion, partial paralysis, hyperactivity, hallucinations, and hydrophobia (fear of water).

    Other types of wound infections to look out for after a dog bite include staph and strep infections. Caused by the staphylococcus (staph) or streptococcus (strep) bacteria, common symptoms of these infections include oozing blisters, sudden onset of boils, swelling of joints, and prolonged fevers.  

    Cellulitis, another potentially dangerous infection, is contracted from the Pasteurella multocida and pasteruella canis bacteria that live in the mouths of many different breeds of dog. When these bacteria are passed into the bloodstream of a human after a dog bite, it can cause initial redness, swelling, tenderness, and pus discharge from the wound. If left untreated, symptoms can worsen quickly and include infection of the joints, bones, and tendons, fatigue, loss of sensation, pneumonia, eye infections, urinary tract infections, meningitis, and blood infections.

    A few other infectious diseases and related conditions that dog bite victims may contract include tetanus, sepsis, and capnocytophaga. Check out our other blog that specifically covers dog bite infections for a deeper dive into this subject.

    There are various other types of bacteria that may be present in the saliva of a dog and cause subsequent infection in humans if bitten. According to the professional healthcare website Medscape, these bacteria include:

    • Eikenella bacteria, which can cause head and neck infections, sinusitis, pulmonary infections, arthritis, endocarditis, pancreatic abscesses, and skull infections.
    • Proteus bacteria, which can cause urinary tract infections.
    • Klebsiella bacteria, a common gut bacteria that can cause trouble if presented outside its typical location. Symptoms of infection can include pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis.
    • Haemophilus bacteria, which can cause haemophilus influenzae. Symptoms include fever and chills, excessive tiredness, belly pain, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and difficulty breathing.
    • Enterobacter bacteria, which can cause urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, soft tissue infections, osteomyelitis, and endocarditis.

    How to Treat Dog Bites Injuries


    After a dog bite attack, immediate use of self-treatment can help curb the risk of infection. While it is important to prioritize seeking emergency medicine from healthcare professionals, you may want to do something on your own before going to the hospital. First, wash the wound with soap and warm water. This can help eliminate bacteria and prevent infection. Next, hold a clean cloth over the wound to slow the blood flow, and apply an antibacterial ointment to the wound.  

    Cover the wound with a sterile bandage and monitor often for signs of infection. Common signs that a serious infection is spreading include redness, swelling, and a warm touch around the lacerations. If the bite wound appears to be getting worse, it is important to promptly seek professional medical care. Doctors can utilize a series of antibiotics and intervention methods to more thoroughly address the issue.

    No matter how serious the bite appears, seeking medical attention is necessary. If the dog bite victim later considers pursuing litigation against the negligent dog owner, having verifiable medical records of any injuries sustained will be important for the plaintiff and their legal team.

    In addition, our past blog that covers why dog bite wound closure is so controversial is another solid argument for why it’s so important to immediately seek professional medical attention after a dog bite. Every dog bite is different and many need to be treated differently, depending on how the wound has progressed and what the existing risk factors are. While it’s perfectly safe for some wounds to be immediately closed with sutures, that’s not the case for others. In fact, in many cases, suturing a dog bite wound could cause much more harm, so never attempt to close your own dog bite wound at home.

    Professional Legal Counsel for Dog Bite Cases

    For years, the law firm of Palermo Law Group has been helping dog bite victims in Oak Brook and throughout Chicagoland fight for compensation. After years of experience helping all types of personal injury victims win compensation for their injuries, we know how traumatic and stressful an event such as a dog attack can be. That’s why we’re here to help and guide you through the legal process. Contact Palermo Law Group today for a free consultation.


    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

    Request a Free Legal Consultation

    Recently Published

    Recent Outcomes

    $1.3 Million

    Mr. Palermo obtained $1.3 million dollars for an airline employee who was injured on the job.


    Palermo obtained $800,000 for the family of 63-year-old woman who died after gallbladder removal surgery.


    Palermo obtained $400,000 for a 28-year-old woman from Aurora that was the victim of a hit-and-run.