Whether it is a stray dog or a house cat, animal bites can prove to be harmful for humans. But the good news is that with some necessary steps, you can easily treat or even avoid these usual injuries.
Cats have sharp teeth that can puncture the skin easily. Since they carry a lot of pathogenic bacteria in their saliva/mouth the chances of infection can be high. Wounds can be apparently small but deep in the skin.
Bites by dogs can be more severe – smaller and bigger breeds both are equally capable of biting people. These too, can lead to bacterial infection. Children are at more risk of getting bit whereas stray dogs are most likely to bite.
What should I do if a cat or dog bites me?
In cases of minor bites, it is important to:
- Clean the wound thoroughly with water
- Apply pressure if there is bleeding, or to flush out bacteria
- Disinfect with soap or any other disinfectant
- Place a clean bandage over it
- Apply antibiotic ointment regularly
Also remember to get immediate medical attention even if the wound is unnoticeable or minor. Keep track of any infections or signs of the wound worsening.
The bite wound can worsen if:
- There is still bleeding even after a few minutes of cleaning
- A stray or wild animal bit you
- You suspect any fractures, nerve or tissue damage might have occurred
- You have a weak immune system or any existing serious condition
- You or the animal have unknown vaccination status
How do I know if the bite is infected?
Infections caused by bites are polymicrobial which means that the bacteria can multiply. An infected bite looks swollen, inflamed and red. It will also be painful to touch. The risk of infection increases within 24-48 hours if the bite was left untreated.
Other symptoms of infection are:
- Chills and fever
- Tenderness around the bite
- Pus/liquid coming out from the bite
- Loss of sensation around the bite
- Limited muscle activity/weakness
- Swollen lymph nodes
What should I expect to happen if the bite is serious?
In case of the bite getting serious, your physician will start treatment depending on the severity of the wound, the type of animal that bit you and existing health issues you may have.
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. Tetanus boosters as well as ointments will also be considered. If the wound is deep and not healing, stitches can also be expected.
In rare cases, rabies prophylaxis treatment might also be done if the animal that bit the victim was showing signs of being rabid. During this, the animal and victims’ vaccinations will be assessed.
How can I prevent an animal bite?
By taking precautionary measures beforehand, you can dramatically reduce the chances of getting bit.
You should be careful when being in contact with animals that are:
- Generally aggressive due to traumatic/current situations
- Sick or wounded
- Have unknown vaccination
- Are feeding/eating
- Are stray or in unclean environments
What else can I do to prevent biting?
Remember that communication with your pet is also vital in helping them understand that biting is wrong. Whenever they try to bite you, you can ask them to ‘back off’ or say ‘No!’ so they understand their boundaries.
- Buying/adopting an animal that is vaccinated or you can afford vaccinations for
- Leaving them alone if you see obvious signs of anger/fear
- Using leashes, especially with dogs, when walking them in public
- Using chew toys, which help clean the teeth and gums and also make them tame enough to not bite constantly
- Never leave children and new animals in the house alone with pets – is uncertain how either of them react to each other
If your pet has bitten you or got bitten, you can contact PetsWorld Clinic for guidence and examinations for the cat or dog.