Dog/Animal Bites

Also known as: cat and dog bites, animal bites, animal attacks

What are dog/cat/animal bites?

A wound inflicted by an animal, whether a pet or wild, can range from mild to severe, deep or superficial. Pet bites are common, usually minor- however if they become infected a serious illness may result. Wild animals generally avoid people unless they/their young feel threatened or their territory is invaded.

What causes dog/cat animal bites?

Children are at risk whenever they are in close proximity to an animal. As all animals have the potential to bite, parents need to watch your children around any animal especially those that they know. Never let them disturb a feeding animal or feed an unknown animal; ensure children do not invade an animal’s space and that their infants’ face, head or neck is kept a distance from the mouth of any animal. Dogs, cats, other domesticated animals and all kinds of wild animals can bite. Do not let your child touch a snake, or monkey.  

What are the symptoms of dog/animal bites?

Pain and bleeding are the primary symptoms of animal bites. In some cases the bite can be deep and/or severe and require emergency care. Infection or the spread of disease such as rabies are other possible complications of animal bites.

What are dog/animal bite care options?

Dog bite treatment depends on the location of the bite, it's severity, the health of the child, and whether the dog has been vaccinated against rabies or not. Principles of care include, cleaning the wound (with or without stitches), antibiotics for bites with a high-risk for infection and the administration of tetanus vaccine (if the child has not been adequately vaccinated). Rabies treatment may be required depending on the dog's rabies vaccination status. Treatment of cat bites is similar. For other bites consult a Poison control center, Animal Control or Nicklaus Children's Hospital Emergency Department.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 10/31/2017 11:54:20 AM

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