How to Treat an Animal Bite

Animals and people can exist together quite well most of the time. However, there are times when any animal will bite. Animals that are pets will even bite. Even though an animal may be a trusted friend of the family for a number of years, they are still animals and their behavior cannot be totally predictable all of the time. There are times when an animal will bite and knowing how to treat an animal bite is important.

Animals or pets may bite humans for a number of reasons. Some pets as they grow older may not be as patient with smaller children pulling their tails and ears as they once were. An animal that is scared, frightened, sick or wounded will bite. An animal that is startled will have a response unlike ours and will lash out at times and bite even the hand that feeds them. Everyone should be extremely cautious around all animals, even pets. Make certain children are made aware of the possible danger of an animal bite and what agitates the family pet.

Children are much more likely to be the victim of an animal bite because they don’t have the vigilance of an adult, are more likely to disrespect an animal’s personal space and they are smaller in stature than an adult. Even a child’s reflexes to avoid an attack are not that of an adult’s. Animals, especially dogs, will attack a child because many times they view them as a rival for attention or food. Therefore, it is advised that children should never play with an animal while they eat or with the animal’s food.

Most cases of rabies in the United States are contracted from animal bites from bats, raccoons, skunks and coyotes and not dogs. Squirrels can carry rabies, but they usually die from rabies before they have the opportunity to bite anyone and pass the virus on to humans.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that human bites are more dangerous for an infected wound because the human mouth contains more bacteria than an animal’s mouth. This certainly isn’t the case. The chance of getting a wound infection from the bite of an animal is the same as getting an infection from the bite of a human. The mouths of animals are not cleaner or filled with less bacteria than the human mouth.

First aid
If a dog bite does occur, make certain that the wound is cleaned thoroughly. Even small bites could are full of germs. Use soap and water always. If the skin is broken and blood is seen, have a doctor assess the animal bite especially if the bite is on the face or hands. Typically they will prescribe an antibiotic as a precaution against infection of the wound. Many times a tetanus shot will be prescribed if the child hasn’t received one recently. Major animal bites will be treated with further care and could possibly require stitches to close the wound.

Minor bites are typically treated with a topical antibiotic ointment in most cases and the wound will be allowed to heal naturally. Any signs of infection should be followed up immediately with a physician’s care.