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Smaller dogs, like Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese Terriers, usually don’t strike fear into people’s hearts. However, like with all dogs, they do have the potential to bite.

Those dog bites, though weaker than those of a large dog, may still puncture the skin and cause some damage. The damage may be less significant than a larger dog’s bite, but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore it. Even a small puncture wound could end up causing serious or catastrophic illnesses.

Why are puncture wounds so dangerous?

To start with, a puncture wound is long and narrow. Since it’s deep but also narrow, bacteria can be pushed down into the puncture and have no exposure to oxygen. Without exposure to oxygen, that bacteria thrives.

This is particularly troublesome if you’re bitten on the hand or another joint since it can be hard to get all of the bacteria out of that space. The puncture may stop bleeding and heal over quickly, which puts you at risk of a festering infection below the surface.

It’s a small bite with a dangerous secret

Small bites are often easily cleaned and bandaged, so people don’t always go to the hospital to treat them. That’s not a good thing, because the bacteria in the puncture won’t be washed out or treated. As it develops and multiplies under the surface, the victim may start to feel pain or have unusual swelling. It’s possible for an infection to get into the bloodstream and cause sepsis, which may be life-threatening, or to develop into a serious illness like tetanus or rabies caused by infected pets.

If you are bitten, recognize that you do need to seek medical attention regardless of the size of the bite. You may need to take antibiotics or have the injury surgically debrided, so that you can avoid a serious infection or life-threatening illness. If the dog might have a serious disease, then you may also need to receive vaccinations or human rabies immune globulin (HRIG). Early treatment will help you avoid serious complications so that you can recover faster. The owner of the pet should be held liable for any costs associated with this medical care.