Animal Bites

General Illness Information

Common Name:

Medical Term: None Specified

Description: Bite injuries and wounds to humans from dogs, cats, or other animals including humans.


Animal bites are primarily caused by the following:

  • Most bite wounds are from a domestic pet known to the victim.
  • Large dogs are the most common source.
  • Human bites are often the result of one person striking another in the mouth with a clenched fist.


  • Animal bites can be prevented by educating how to avoid animal bites for children as well as adults.
  • Also be sure to avoid stray animals.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Bite wounds can be tears, punctures, scratches, ripping, or crush injuries.
  • Dog bites usually involve the hands, face, or the lower extremities.
  • Cat bites usually involve the hands, followed by lower extremities, face and trunk.

Risk Factors

  • Dog bites rarely become infected.
  • Cat bites and human bites frequently become infected.

Diagnosis & Treatment

General Measures:

  • Wounds should steadily improve and close over by 7-10 days, with appropriate treatment.
  • Thorough surgical cleaning of wound. Surgical closure if needed. Wound will usually be left open to heal to lessen risk of infection. Splint hand if it is injured. Human and cat bite wounds on the hands should not be primarily closed due to the high risk of infection. (i.e. should be left open). Elevation of the injured extremity to prevent swelling. Contact the local health department and consult about the prevalence of rabies in the species of animal involved. If possible the animal that caused the bite should be held and checked for rabies. Follow up with family doctor essential.


  • Preventive antibiotic treatment may be prescribed.
  • Anti-tetanus injection may have to be given.
  • Sometimes, an anti-rabies vaccine or serum may have to be given.


No restrictions except those caused by the injury.


No special diet.

Possible Complications :

  • Infection
  • Extensive soft tissue injuries with scarring
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Rabies
  • Possible death


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