Animal bites aren’t something you should just blow off. If the skin has been broken, an animal bite can be even more deadly than a large wound or broken bone. Animals can carry diseases that can quickly lead to fatal infections. If you or a loved one suffer an animal bite, you need to act quickly to care for the wound.
How Common Are Animal Bites?
Many people assume that deadly animal bites are mostly associated with wild animals. However, that’s not the case. Most wild animals instinctively avoid humans whenever possible and rarely get close enough to bite them. In most cases, when a person gets admitted to the emergency room for an animal bite, it is because they were bitten by an animal that spends most of its time with humans such as a dog, cat, or rodent. The bites are generally located on the hands, though head and neck injuries as a result of animal bites aren’t uncommon.
The most common animal bites are dog bites. It’s estimated that during the course of a single day, more than a 1000 people will visit the emergency room because they were bitten by a dog. Most of these are children who are 14 years old or younger who played too roughly with a pet or approached an unknown dog. Young boys are the most common victims of dog bites.
While dog bites are serious, they’re not as dangerous as cat bites. Bites from dogs tend to be superficial wounds, while cats, which have sharper teeth and more powerful jaws, not only break the skin, but also damage the underlying soft tissue. The other problem with cat bites is that they quickly get infected, which is where the popular phrase, cat scratch fever comes from.
What to Do If You Get Bitten
When it comes to animal bites, you need to act quickly. Getting the bleeding to stop is your first priority. Applying pressure is the best way to stop the bleeding. If the bite results in two deep puncture wounds, it’s going to take a great deal of pressure and bandages to control the bleeding.
Once the bleeding has slowed, the wound needs to be cleaned. Use an irrigation syringe to flush the wound from the inside out with warm water and soap. Cover the area with a good antiseptic such as betadine to decrease the odds of infection. Continue using antiseptic a few times a day until the wound has healed.
If an animal bites you and you don’t have access to a hospital, don’t panic. Cover the wound, but resist the urge to seal it completely. Sealing the wound locks any bacteria inside of it, increasing the chances of you developing a life threatening infection.
If the bit is on your hand, make sure you remove any jewelry. Animal bites tend to swell a great deal and if you have rings or bracelets on, they could cause issues with your circulation if the swelling is severe. Keep the wounds covered with an ice pack for as long as possible. Not only does this encourage healing, but also reduces the amount of swelling your experience.
The wound needs to be constantly monitored. While a little heat, redness, and swelling around the injury is to be expected, you‘ll need to make sure it doesn’t show signs of infection. If the wound turns yellow, starts draining large amount of pus, or you see red streaks extending away from the wound and moving up your arm, seek professional medical help right away. All of these are signs that you’re developing a serious infection that won’t be cured with the antiseptics you have in your first aid kit.
The best way to avoid a serious injury as a result of an animal bite is to use common sense when working around animals, including your own house pets. Teach your kids to avoid animals that they do not know. Even if a stray dog looks friendly, it could attack out of fear.
Have you ever been bitten by an animals? How did you treat your wound?