The hand is the most common place for an animal to bite you on and should be treated immediately. Animal bites usually result in skin lacerations and puncture wounds but more serious injuries like crushed bones, torn ligaments, tendons, and muscles can also occur. (Dogs have rounded teeth and strong jaws that can cause crushing injuries. Cats have sharp pointed teeth and cause more puncture wounds than dogs.)
Animal bites can injure or damage blood vessels and nerves and are at risk for serious infection, which are transmittable from the animal’s mouth into the hand. Infection is a major concern for all bite injuries-- including bacteria, virus, fungal, and other germs that can cause more serious medical conditions. Rabies is a concern…without timely treatment rabies can be fatal. Fortunately, most household pets are vaccinated against rabies. The majority of rabies cases occur from wild animals such as skunks, fox, coyotes, or raccoons.
To first care for the wound
• Stop the wound from bleeding by applying direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth.
• Wash the wound. Use mild soap and warm, running water. Rinse the bite for 3 to 5 minutes.
• Apply an antibacterial ointment to the wound. This may help reduce the risk for infection.
• Put on a dry, sterile bandage.
• See your doctor or go to the E.R. right away to ensure there is no infection and that the wound isn’t more serious.
Animal bites should be taken seriously. Most household pets bite while playing and you may not think your injury is serious, but it should be looked at if the skin is broken. If you are bitten by a wild animal, get to the E.R. immediately. If left untreated, animal bites pose serious threats to your wellness.