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

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
33% - 9321 votes
67% - 18659 votes