Animal bites that break the skin have bacteria that may cause infection or rabies. Puncture wounds from canine teeth are especially a problem as they are often deeper and more severe. It may surprise you that cat bites become infected more often than dog bites.
There are some simple ways you can help prevent an animal bite:
- Do not approach stray or wild animals.
- Teach your child not to provoke or tease animals.
- Leave animals alone when they are eating, sleeping or going to the bathroom.
- Ask a veterinarian about animals that adapt well to small children before getting a pet.
If your child is bitten, you should call the animal’s owner if you know them or can see the tag. If it is a stray or wild, call animal control in your county. Do not try to catch any animal that has bitten someone.
Some general care guidelines include:
- Clean the bite area with soap and water and rinse well, or use an antiseptic cleanser.
- Give your child antibiotics, if prescribed by your child’s doctor. Give the medicine exactly as your child’s doctor orders.
- A tetanus booster is advised within 24 hours of the animal bite if your child has not had a tetanus shot within the last five years. Be sure to record the tetanus shot in your child’s immunization record.
- Do not use the body part that is bitten–keep it covered.
Call your child’s doctor if the bite draws blood, comes from a stray animal or from a pet whose shots are not up to date. Also, if the bite area drains pus is red, swollen or tender or develops red streaks, seek medical attention immediately. Chills and a fever higher than 100.3°F may also be a sign of infection.
And in case the animal bites and scratches, it is important to know that claw wounds should be treated with the same care since nails can be coated with saliva.