Animal bites: What are the treatment options?

Animal bites require immediate first aid care and even medical attention in serious cases. The risk for infection is high especially if the bite came from a wild animal. It is vital that you know how to properly care for animal bites.

How to deal with minor cuts or wounds

A minor cut or wound from animal bites can be easily managed. On the other hand, a larger or serious wound requires medical attention. A wound is deep if the tendons or other internal structures can be seen while a gaping wound has edges that could not be drawn back together.

Care for a bleeding wound

  • Cover with a clean cloth and apply pressure for about 15 minutes.
  • A bandage can be used to wrap around the dressing or pad. Make sure that it is not wrapped tightly since it can disrupt with the circulation.
  • In case the bleeding is significant, blood might seep through the bandage. Simply use a second dressing to cover the first layer.
    Animal bites

    In case the bleeding is significant, blood might seep through the bandage. Simply use a second dressing to cover the first layer.

  • If the bleeding persists, remove the second bandage only and place a fresh one.
  • Do not check on the wound if the bleeding has stopped. Remember that removing the pressure will trigger the bleeding to start again.

Care for a non-bleeding wound

  • When it comes to animal bites that do not bleed, rinse under running water for about 2 minutes. Pat the area dry using a clean cloth and cover with a sterile, dry, non-adhesive dressing to reduce the risk for infection.
  • Check the bite site regularly for indications of infection such as redness, increasing pain, swelling or yellowish drainage.
  • If the individual was not able to complete a full course of tetanus immunizations or the boosters are not updated, consult the doctor.
  • If the individual experiences pain, the doctor might recommend the suitable medications or measures to take.

Dealing with serious animal bites

In case a body part was bitten off, the following measures should be considered if possible:

  • Carefully cleanse the body part that was bitten off using tap water.
  • Store the body part in a plastic bag or container that can be sealed securely.
  • Place the container or bag into iced water to keep it cool since there is a possibility for it to be reattached using surgery.
  • Bring the individual to the nearest emergency department along with the container or bag that contains the body part.

Risk for tetanus

Tetanus is considered as a serious bacterial infection which results to the release of toxins into the bloodstream. Among those who sustained animal bites where the skin is broken, it is usually recommend to receive a tetanus booster shot.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on animal bites is for learning purposes only. Learn to provide proper wound care including animal bites by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.


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