If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog or a cat, you’re not alone. Every day, more than 13,000 people are bitten by pets and wild animals. But do you know what to do if this happens?
Dangers of Animal Bites
“Typically, a lot of bites are really just puncture wounds,” plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says.
The risk for infection from an animal or human bite is greater if it occurs on your extremities, which is why it is vital to have the wound cleaned out as soon as possible. Signs of infection include redness, increased swelling and puss coming from the wound. If you suffer from these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. “And last, but not least, if you get fevers after being bitten, you'd better go to your doctor sooner rather than later,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork adds.
Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, and research shows that incidents of dog bites increase as the weather gets warmer. If you have a dog or are planning on bringing a dog into your family, make sure to enroll your dog in training and socialization classes.
Children often play rough with dogs, so it’s important to supervise them and teach them how to properly play and interact with their canine friends. If your child is bitten, make sure to go to the doctor’s office, as he or she may need antibiotics or a tetanus shot to prevent infection, or possibly even rabies shots if the dog has not been vaccinated. Although most dogs are trained house pets, it is critical to teach your children what to do if they attack.
What to Do When an Animal Attacks:
• Avoid eye contact
• Speak softly
• Protect body with object if possible
• Use a heavy object to strike the animal’s head
• Get in a fetal position and cover face, head and neck
Initial Cleaning of All Bite Wounds (AskDrSears.com)
As soon as possible, preferably within eight hours, do the following:
• Gently wipe away any dirt.
• Irrigate the wound. Go to a drug store and buy a large bottle of sterile saline and a large syringe. Flush the wound with at least 16 ounces of the saline using the syringe. Use as much force with the syringe as the child will allow. If it is too painful, apply an antibiotic ointment that also contains an anesthetic ointment. This may ease the pain.
• Apply an antibiotic ointment.
• Use the guidelines below to determine whether further medical attention is necessary.
General Bite Situations that Always Require You to Call a Doctor (AskDrSears.com)
Here are some situations that require you seek medical attention the same day.
• Any large bite that results in a large tear that looks as if it requires stitches.
• Any bite on the hand, finger, foot or toe (unless it is just a little scrape).
• Any bite on the face (unless it is just a little scrape).
• Any deep puncture bite