Munson Health
 
Animal Bites

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by Wood D
 

Symptoms

Symptoms of a bite include pain and bleeding.
Symptoms of infection include:
  • Redness around the wound
  • Pain
  • Warmth
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Pus oozing from the wound
  • Fever
 

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to promote healing, decrease the risk of infection, and prevent complications. If your dog bit you and it has had all its vaccinations, you may be able to treat a minor wound yourself. However, call your provider for medical advice. Receiving medical care within the first 24 hours decreases the chance of infection.
Seek medical care in these situations:
Regardless of the severity of the bite, see a doctor if you have a chronic medical condition, such as:

Self-care

  • Wash the wound with soap and water for at least five minutes.
  • Apply pressure with a clean towel to stop the bleeding.
  • If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes, seek immediate medical care.
  • Place a sterile bandage on the open area.
  • Elevate the wound, keeping the area above the level of your heart to decrease swelling.
  • Keep the bandage clean and dry.
  • Check the wound regularly for signs of infection.

Medical Care

Your doctor can clean the wound, washing the tissue with large amounts of fluid. Debris and dead tissue can be removed. The wound may or may not be closed with stitches. It often is kept open to decrease the risk of infection. After 24 hours, the doctor may use adhesive strips to bring the edges of the wound closer together. Antibiotics may be ordered and a tetanus shot may be given
Be sure to tell your doctor as much as you can about the animal that you bit you and the circumstances surrounding the incident. If the identity of the animal is unknown and it cannot be monitored for rabies, you may need to receive treatment to prevent this life-threatening disease.
If you have had an animal bite, follow your doctor's instructions.
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

The American Veterinary Medical Association
http://www.avma.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

About Kids Health
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php

 

References


Cat and dog bites. FamilyDoctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/pets-animals/cat-and-dog-bites.html. Updated March 2010. Accessed November 5, 2012.


Wunner WH, Briggs DJ. Rabies in the 21st century. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010;4(3):e591.

 

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