Animal Bite First Aid

In Primary Care

Animal Bite First Aid

Most animal bites suffered by people come from domesticated animals, typically dogs. However not as common, the hard-to-clean puncture wound bites from cats and birds are known to cause infection because they can’t be thoroughly cleaned.

If your pet hasn’t been properly immunized for disorders such as rabies, or you’ve been bitten by a wild animal such as a bat, raccoon or skunk, seek medical attention right away to avoid potentially painful medical conditions.

Follow these animal bite first aid tips:

  • Surface wounds. If the bite only damages the top layer of skin (surface level) and there doesn’t appear to be a threat of rabies, clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Use an antibiotic ointment to prevent possible infection, and either wrap with medical gauze or apply a bandage.
  • Deep wounds. If the animal bite results in a deep puncture wound through the skin, or the skin is badly damaged, use a clean, dry cloth to apply pressure and stop the bleeding. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Infection. If there appears to be signs of a possible infection like swelling, redness, or oozing puss, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Suspected rabies. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you believe there’s a possibility that the animal who bit you might carry rabies.

You may have noticed a common theme among those animal bite tips: Seek medical attention immediately. This is because any major damage to the skin or flesh needs to be treated as soon as possible to repair the tissue and prevent infection. Additionally, the threat of rabies is real. Untreated rabies can lead to death. Symptoms of rabies may include fever, headache, increased salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis, and/or inability to think clearly.

Animal Bite Recap: Seek immediate medical attention if…

  1. The bite is a deep puncture wound.
  2. The skin and surrounding tissue is badly damaged, torn and bleeding profusely.
  3. Signs of infection such as swelling, redness, and oozing puss are present.


Padmini Rajan, MD

4726 Habana Ave Tampa, FL 33614
Primary Care
“The good physicians treat the disease; the great physicians treat the patient who has the disease,” according to Dr. Padmini Rajan, an internist and primary care physician with the Florida Primary Care Group.

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