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.
- 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.