Symptoms and Signs of Animal Bites Symptoms, First Aid, and Treatment Guidelines

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Animal Bites Symptoms, First Aid, and Treatment Guidelines

Animal bites may occur from many different types of animals such as dogs, cats, hamsters, raccoons, ferrets, and squirrels. Bites are from the family pet are common. Most states require animal bites to be reported which can be important in rabies cases to help officials track and monitor a possible spread of the disease. Animal bites should be treated by a medical professional to minimize the risk of infection. There may also be broken or embedded teeth (cats) or other foreign material in the wound that needs to be cleaned, possible underlying nerve and blood vessel damage, a risk of tetanus if the person's immunizations are not up to date, and a possible risk of rabies, depending on the animal and circumstances of the bite.

If an animal bite is not medically treated, the wound may become infected which may indicate there is infection or debris still in the wound (such as teeth, clothes, or dirt). Symptoms of an infected animal bite include redness at or around the bite site, swelling, pus drainage from the wound, increasing pain, localized warmth at the bite site, red streaks leading away from the site of the bite, and fever.

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.