Animal bites

  • Alternative Names

    Bites - animals

    First Aid
    1. Calm and reassure the person. Wear latex gloves or wash your hands thoroughly before attending to the wound. Wash hands afterwards, too.
    2. If the bite is not bleeding severely, wash the wound thoroughly with mild soap and running water for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, cover the bite with antibiotic ointment and a clean dressing.
    3. If the bite is actively bleeding, apply direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth until the bleeding stops. Raise the area of the bite.
    4. If the bite is on the hand or fingers, call the doctor right away.
    5. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, watch the area of the bite for signs of infection (increasing skin redness, swelling, and pain).
    6. If the bite becomes infected, call the doctor or take the person to an emergency medical center.

    Do Not

    Do NOT go near an animal that may have rabies or is acting strangely or aggressively. Do NOT try to catch it yourself.

    If an animal's behavior is strange, it may be rabid. Notify the proper authorities. The police can always direct you to the proper animal control authorities. Tell them what the animal looks like and where it is so they can capture it.

    Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

    Call 911 if the person has been seriously wounded -- for example, if the person is bleeding significantly and it will not stop with simple first aid measures.

    Call your doctor or go to a hospital emergency room if:

    • The person was bitten by an unknown or wild animal.
    • The person has not had a tetanus shot within the past 5 years. (If a person has not had a tetanus shot in 5 years, a tetanus shot is recommended within 24 hours of any skin break.)
    • There is swelling, redness, pus draining from the wound, or pain.
    • The bite is on the face, neck, or hands.
    • The bite is deep or large.
    • You aren't sure if the wound needs stitches.

    Report the bite to the local animal control authorities, even if you don't seek professional medical care. This will allow authorities to test the animal and prevent further incidents.