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Animal Bites (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Most animal bites should be evaluated in a doctor's office, at a walk-in clinic, or in a hospital's emergency department for these reasons:

  • The risk of infection
  • Broken or embedded teeth (cats) or other foreign material in the wound (which will cause an infection)
  • Possible underlying nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Risk of tetanus if the person's immunizations are not up to date
  • The consideration of risk of rabies, depending on the animal and circumstances of the bite

These types of bites pose the highest risk of infection and therefore require prompt evaluation:

  • Dog bites because of the crushing mechanism of the bite
  • Cat bites because of the puncture mechanism of the bite
  • Wild animal bites (from raccoons, for example) and dog or cat bites (pets may have themselves been bitten by stray animals) because of the risk of contracting rabies

Certain bite wounds require immediate attention:

  • Bite caused by a wild animal or a stray dog or cat
  • Possibility of teeth, dirt, or other matter in the wound
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Weakness or numbness of the area or another area away from the bite
  • Any other symptoms or concern that the person bitten may have regarding a bite wound

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Patient Comments & Reviews

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Animal Bites - Type and Treatment

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Animal Bites »

Because many animal bites are never reported, determining the exact incidence of animal bite wounds in the United States, let alone the world, is difficult.

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