Dogs and Cats and Kids, OH MY! Animal and Human Bites
The Blueberry Pediatrics Blog

Dogs and Cats and Kids, OH MY! Animal and Human Bites

Dr. Lyndsey Garbi
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Isn’t it great to have a furry friend? Most of the time, yes, but not when they bite you! Animal bites hurt and they are scary for anyone. Let’s explore what there is to know about animal bites!

My child was bitten by an animal…now what?!

Wash the area immediately with lots of soap and water. Press on the bite with a towel if it is still bleeding.

Should I go to the doctor?

Go to a doctor or nurse in any of the following situations. These are purposely very specific, so pay close attention:

  • ANY bite by a wild animal (raccoon, skunk, woodchuck, fox, coyote, bat)
  • Cat bite that breaks the skin at all
  • Dog bite on the hand, foot or head, or any extremely large bite
  • Bite by any animal known to have rabies
  • If your child hasn’t stopped bleeding in 15 minutes
  • If your child has not yet had a tetanus shot, or you don’t remember when the last tetanus shot was
  • If your child has diabetes or a compromised immune system
  • If pain near the bite is getting worse
  • If pus is oozing from the bite or it looks angry, swollen, and red

What will happen at the doctor’s office?

  • Your doctor will clean the wound first, and decide whether or not your child needs any intervention, such as stitches.
  • If your child has not had a tetanus shot in 5 years, your doctor will give one.

What about Rabies?

Rabies is a very serious virus that is transmitted by animal bites from an animal that already has rabies. However, it is also quite rare.  Anyone bitten by an animal suspected to have rabies should get a series of shots to prevent the virus. If your child is bitten by any wild animal or an animal known to have rabies, you should see a doctor immediately.

Usually pets of neighbors or friends bite because they are provoked and not because they have rabies. Make sure you know exactly what happened between animal and child. My little cousin tried to poke his dog in the eyes and the dog bit him – can’t say I blame the dog.

What about farm animals?

Call your doctor if your child is bit a farm animal. These animals vary in their disease risk across the United States.

What if my child was bit by another child?

Human bites happen! If your child was bit by another human, the same rules apply: Clean the bite with plenty of soap and water, and speak to your doctor if the skin broke. It is possible an infection may occur so you’ll have to keep a close eye on it for a few days.