A dog attack is a very traumatic experience, especially when it involves an unknown animal. Knowing what to do if bitten is crucial to preserve your health and well-being, both from infection as well as other serious consequences. Cleveland Clinic offers the following advice on which steps to take if you’re bitten by a dog.

Even if you’re not bleeding profusely, you still face a risk of infection. In fact, approximately 50 percent of dog bites can cause infection, and these can become serious in some cases. That’s why it’s a recommended you see a doctor even if the injury appears to be minimal. You may need a course of antibiotics to fight off bacteria and prevent a serious infection from occurring.

If the wound is bleeding, you’ll need to dress and sterilize it before seeking medical attention. Gently push on the area around the wound to flush out any bacteria that may be present. Next, wash the wound with soap and water. Mild soap is best to prevent irritation from occurring. If antiseptic cream is available, apply it to the area before wrapping it in a sterile bandage.

Along with the risk of infection, a dog bite also carries a risk of rabies. Your doctor will ask you about the dog that bit you so he or she can verify that it’s received a rabies vaccination. Rabies is nearly always fatal once symptoms present, so doctors must act swiftly if they think you’ve been exposed. To prevent symptoms from occurring, you’ll need a series of shots as soon as possible after the attack has occurred.