If someone encounters a strange dog in New Mexico, the typical reaction is to approach with caution or look for an owner. Sometimes, however, dog owners will give someone permission to pet an animal that will suddenly become aggressive. 

While it is unlikely that most dogs will bite unless pushed to their limits, it does still occasionally happen. If a dog bite does occur, it is helpful to know how to handle it and if the wound can be treated at home. 

At-home treatment 

While they can sometimes be severe injuries, a mild dog bite will not require a trip to the emergency room or urgent care, unless you are unsure if the dog has rabies. If there is no owner present, or if the owner says the animal has not been vaccinated, it is important to get rabies shots as soon as possible. 

If the animal has been vaccinated against rabies, there are some simple treatment steps people can follow at home for mild bites. Cleveland Clinic states that the victim should first take five to ten minutes to wash out the wound. 

Bandages for these kinds of wounds should be changed multiple times per day. Before even bandaging the wound, however, it is a good idea to slow any bleeding and apply antibiotic ointment. When changing the bandage, fresh antibiotic ointment should be applied. 

When to see a doctor 

Even if the wound does not appear to be serious, Web MD advises that dog bite wounds from unfamiliar dogs should be seen by a doctor. At-home treatment is not enough if the wound begins to emit pus, feels warmer after a couple of days, swells up or becomes red. A doctor can help prevent an infection from spreading and becoming a serious health issue.