First Aid for Animal Bites

Each year, over 2 million Americans are bitten by animals. Over 90 percent of animal bite cases are dog bites. Cat bites account for most of the remaining 10 percent. And while wild animals account for only a small percentage, they are perhaps the most serious, due to the risk of rabies and other infections.

Children are the most likely victims of animal attacks. 50 percent of school-aged children reported an animal bite at some point in their life.

In the even of an animal bite, follow these guidelines:

Minor wounds

The bite barely breaks the skin, treat it like you would a minor wound: wash it thoroughly with soap and water, then apply an antibiotic cream to prevent infection. Cover the bite with a clean bandage.

Deep wounds

If the skin is torn and bleeding, or if the bite left deep punctures in the skin, apply pressure using a clean, dry cloth to stem the bleeding, then seek medical attention.

For infection

If you see signs of infection such as redness, swelling, increased pain, or oozing, see your doctor immediately.

For rabies

If the bite was caused by a wild or domesticated animal of unknown immunization status, seek emergency medical attention.


Doctors recommend getting a tetanus shot every 10 years. If your last shot was over five years ago and your wound is deep and dirty, your doctor may prescribe a booster. A booster should be administered within 48 hours of the injury.

Most of the animals live in the victim’s neighborhood (75%) or home (15%); in most instances, the bites are provoked by humans. [pediatriccareonline] 

Dogs are more likely to bite. Cat bites however, are more likely to cause infection.

Bites from wild and/or non-immunized domestic animals carry a high risk of rabies. Rabies though, is more common in bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Rodents, squirrels, and other rodents, rarely carry rabies.

Source: MayoClinic