On a springtime walk on a lovely Ohio day, you stop to admire the flowers. And when you turn around, a dog comes at you and bites you.

What do you do next?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, you should seek immediate medical attention to stave off the risk of an infection. A dog’s teeth can either tear skin or compress tissue, leaving an open wound that can become infected – or worse. If that occurs, you could find yourself hospitalized.

A Cleveland Clinic physician said anyone who has been bitten should visit a doctor within eight hours or immediately if you have an immunocompromised system or diabetes. That’s because about half of dog bites bring bacteria, according to the Clinic.

The Clinic also recommends any dog bite victim to take the following steps:

  1. Clean the wound with mild soap and rinse it with warm tap water for at least five minutes.
  2. Use a clean cloth to address the bleeding.
  3. If you have antibiotic cream in your medicine supply, apply it.
  4. Put a bandage on the bite.
  5. Visit the doctor.

A medical professional will examine the bite, then likely clean it again and provide a proper dressing; stitches could be recommended. The doctor also will ask for information about your last tetanus shot and might give you another one or a booster.

It’s important to follow these guidelines and any follow-up recommendations from the doctor.

Hopefully, the dog’s owner offered apologies as well as contact information. You are within your legal rights to seek financial restitution for medical bills.