The Dangers of Animal Bites & When To Seek Medical Attention

Animal BitesEvery year, around 4.5 million animal bites are reported. Many different types of animals can bite you, including your pet dog, the neighbor’s cat, a feral squirrel, and the list goes on. According to US statistics, in 2008, 316,000 people sought urgent medical attention because of an animal bite. In the US there are over 74 million pet cats and 70 million pet dogs. These widely adored species are the number one and two culprits when it comes to animal bites. Bite type and severity will differ depending on the type of animal that bites you. For instance, dogs have extremely powerful jaws that can release up to 200 pounds of pressure per square inch. A dog crushes down with their teeth, creating wounds that can impact all the way down to the muscles and bones. Cats, on the other hand, have sharp teeth that leave behind deep flesh wounds that are prone to infection. If an animal bites you, immediate medical attention may be necessary. Here we provide answers about common types of animal bites and what you can do to protect yourself if you are bit.

Infections Caused By Animal Bites

Different types of animal bites carry different risks for bacteria. Primates, rodents, swine, herbivores, cats, and dogs all carry different types of bacteria—some which overlap, and some unique.

Some of the common bacteria associated with dog bites:

  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Proteus
  • Prevotella
  • Moraxella
  • Pasteurella

Some of the common bacteria associated with cat bites:

  • Pasteurella
  • Bacteroides
  • Wolinella
  • Actinomyces

Preventing Infection From Animal Bites

The most important thing you want to focus on after any animal bite is preventing infection. Invading bacteria may enter the wound on site of contact, or after due to improper wound treatment. A medical professional is necessary to catch bacteria early on before problems have a chance to progress. (Read More Information)

How To Know If An Animal Has Rabies

If an animal unexpectedly bites you, you might be worried about rabies. Rabies silently lives and grows in muscle tissue; it can take up to 3 months after contracting rabies for any signs or symptoms to appear. Rabies can also surface within days of contraction. Rabies takes between 12 and 180 days to travel from the peripheral nerves through the central nervous system. Once rabies reaches the central nervous system, all signs become notable. Case-by-case, different signs become notable at different times.

Some key signs your pet has rabies include:

  • Not wanting to eat
  • A bite-mark, or wound that they want to continually chew at
  • Fever
  • Personality change (might only be very slight at first)
  • Different tone to their bark or meow

(Learn More)

Cats, bats, dogs, foxes, and raccoons have all been identified as a source of rabies. Meaning both wild and domesticated animals can pose a threat. To help keep you safe, you can have your pets vaccinated against rabies. When it comes to wild or unknown animals, it’s best to stay away, no matter how cute and domesticated they appear.

What To Do After An Animal Bites You

The moments after an animal bites you are crucial, what you do in these minutes can change your overall healing process.

Here are 4 steps to follow after an animal bite:

  1. Clean the wound immediately using soap and water
  2. To help stop the bleeding, apply a clean towel over the wound and hold in place with pressure
  3. Place a sterile bandage over the wound to keep out potential infections
  4. Visit your local Urgent Medical Center to ensure your wound can heal on its own and is not infected, or at risk for infection

When To Visit The Doctor For An Animal Bite

There are times animals bite and the results are not bad enough to warrant medical attention, or much concern at all. If you have cats, you likely get your share of shallow bites and scratches on a regular basis. For more serious bites you should always get medical attention to prevent infection and improper healing.

You should visit the doctor for an animal bite if one or more of the following applies:

  • You have a deep gash wound, which can be especially dangerous on your head, hand, or feet
  • If you have a pre-existing condition such as AIDS, diabetes, or any other disorder that weakens your immune system
  • If you suspect a broken bone
  • If the bleeding does not cease after 15 minutes of pressure. This may indicate nerve damage or more serious injury
  • You have not had a tetanus vaccination in over 5 years
  • A wild animal, or other unknown animal, has caused the bite

(Read Full Article)

At Urgent Medical Center your health and well-being is our first priority; from animal bites to bad colds, we’ve got you covered.

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