Treating animal bites

For some animal bites, self-care is adequate, but others are serious enough to require emergency medical attention.

If you do get bitten, follow this advice: 

  • If the bite breaks the skin, treat it as you would a minor wound. Wash the area well with soap and water. Apply an antibiotic cream and cover it with a clean bandage.
  • If you haven't had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years, you should get one, preferably within 48 hours.
  • If the bite creates a deep puncture, or if the skin is badly torn and bleeding, apply pressure and get immediate medical attention.
  • If you have a fever or you see signs of infection (swelling, redness, pain, bad smell or fluid draining from the area), see a doctor right away.
  • If you get bitten by an animal that is acting strangely - a classic sign of rabies - see a doctor immediately. – (Health24, November 2003)

- Last updated: June 2010

Read more:
Diseases from dogs
Diseases from cats

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