Many children are drawn to animals, so it is likely that if your neighbors have a dog, your child will probably take an interest in the pet. Unfortunately, no matter how nice the dog seems, any dog can bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children are more likely than adults are to be bitten by a dog, and when children are bitten, the wounds are often more severe than they would have been to an adult.

There are many ways to try to prevent a dog from biting your child. However, if the dog already bit your child, there are several steps you should consider taking to ensure the wound is properly treated and the incident is properly documented.

Seek medical care

You may choose to treat minor wounds at home by washing them, applying antibiotic cream and bandaging them. However, dog bite wounds can spread diseases and can become easily infected. Also, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the true extent of the injury. What looks like a minor injury could involve damage to muscles, tendons, nerves or bones.

To minimize the risks associated with your child’s injury, consider taking him or her to a medical professional regardless of the wound’s apparent severity. You may need to seek immediate medical care if the wound is deep or if the wound is on a sensitive area, such as your child’s face or neck.

Exchange information

If the situation is not a medical emergency, you may consider exchanging contact information right away with your neighbor and anyone who witnessed the incident. It may be especially important to find out if the dog is up to date on vaccinations. Proof of the dog’s vaccination record may help rule out the need for certain types of medical treatment.

Consider documenting the incident

There are several ways you can document a dog bite injury. Photos of the injury before and after medical treatment can be helpful, as can a journal about the effects of your child’s injuries, such as pain or reduced mobility. Medical records also document the extent of your child’s injuries.

However, it may also be helpful to contact your local animal control service or police department to report the incident. This report and any investigation that follows may prove beneficial to you if you decide later to take legal action.

If a neighbor’s dog severely injured your child, you may be able to hold your neighbor responsible. Every situation is different, but the dog’s owner may be responsible if he or she knew the dog was aggressive or if the owner’s negligent behavior caused the dog to bite. Holding the dog’s owner responsible may not seem like the neighborly thing to do, but it is important that you put your child’s well-being first. By seeking justice, you may be able to receive compensation to help cover the cost of your child’s medical bills or other expenses related to your child’s injury.