Ouch! Dealing with Animal Bites

by Dr. Peter Hill 15. June 2014 10:55

OUCH! That “Chihuahua” just bit me!

I guess I trusted “Taco” just a little too much. In my physical exam my hands moved over his head and I got a feeling we were friends until I lifted his lip to examine his teeth. This was his best opportunity to bite me considering my thumb was right there. Lighting fast his bite as I was surprised and bleeding. Being a seasoned veterinarian I don’t get bitten often but it does happen. Whet is important is to know what to do immediately after a bite. And trust me dogs mouths are very infective particularly a puncture wound.

1.Clean and scrub well with a surgical/disinfectant cleaner.

2.Apply ice and pressure to reduce swelling and hemorrhage.

3.Apply a bandage and topical ointment to the wound.

4.Start appropriate antibiotics. If you don’t know what to use or don’t have any antibiotics go to the emergency room or your Doctor ASAP.

Within 12 hours most puncture wounds from a dog or cat bite will become systemic and move into your blood stream. This is very serious and needs immediate attention.

Here are some facts on ammonal bites:

It is widely reported, that approximately 1-5 million cases

Of mammalian bites occur annually. Most of these mammalian bites are due to dogs (80-90%), cats (5-10%) and humans making up the final (2-3%).

These are the bites that are reported or require an emergency room visit. Other bites that can occur but not as frequently are from rats, monkeys, raccoons, foxes and bats.

Human bites also occur frequently, being bit from a human is often times a more dangerous type of bite. The percentage of human bites is low however because human related injuries are often not reported to the authorities!

Adolescents and young children are the more common recipients since they may have more contact with pets. Many adolescents are more active in outdoor activities where they can come in contact with a wild animal including reptiles. Teens are also more commonly involved in violence with others, which lead to human bite injuries. Human bites are also a leading cause of injuries in daycare centers.

Some Miscellaneous Dog Bite statistics:

  • Males get bitten by dogs more than females do, with male dogs also biting people more often than female dogs.
  • Domestic dogs cause a shocking majority of dog bites, with strays accounting for a miniscule percentage of dog bites.
  • A young dog (between the ages of 1-5) is more likely to bite than an older dog (6 years and over)
  • Pure bred dogs are involved in less biting incidents than mixed breed dogs
  • In 15-20% of dog bite cases, an un-familiar dog bit the person. The rest of the number is made up of known dogs biting people.
  • The insurance industry pays out billions of dollars each year in dog bite related cases. The average insurance claim in 2008, for a dog bite on homeowner’s insurance wad $16,600.

Hopefully you wont encounter an animal bite but if you do you know what measures to take to prevent a serious infection.

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