First Aid for Animal bites
An animal bite can be very infectious; therefore you should seek medical help, promptly. An animal bite may give rise to rabies if a non-immunized pet or a stray animal such a dog, bat, skunk, fox or raccoon bites you. Frequent cases of animal bites include those caused by domestic pets; therefore, it is ideal that you get your pet vaccinated.
- A bruise or a puncture wound
- Breakage of the skin
- Redness of the affected area
- Skin starts to swell
- Fluid oozes out
- Minor wounds
An animal bite that does not puncture your skin isn’t a severe wound because your body is not infected internally. Therefore, you can treat the condition yourself by rinsing the affected area thoroughly using soap and water. Apply an antiseptic cream or gel on the affected area and cover it with a sterile bandage to prevent infection.
- Puncture wounds
If the animal has broken your skin with its bite and created a deep puncture wound, stop the bleeding by applying pressure on it, using a clean cloth. Call the doctor to check for possible signs of infection.
Signs and symptoms of infection include oozing of fluid, severe pain, swelling and redness. If you suspect an infection, call a doctor immediately.
If you think that the animal bite might result in rabies, perhaps because you got bitten by a stray animal or a non-immunized pet, call medical help immediately.
- Doctors advise getting a tetanus shot every 10 years to reduce your susceptibility of incurring an infection. If you already got a shot 5 years ago, it is recommended that you get a booster if you have been bitten by an animal that may cause you infection. Doctors suggest that you should get the shot as soon as possible after the episode of the animal bite.
- Animal bites are frequently caused by pets; therefore, make sure your pet is vaccinated to prevent infection. It is more likely that you will get bitten by a dog rather than a cat however; an animal bite caused by a cat is more infectious as the wound is difficult to treat. Make sure you stay safe and stay away from stray animals, especially those that have a potential risk of causing you rabies such as wild dogs, bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes and stray cats. Rodents such as rabbits and squirrels rarely carry rabies but it is best if you stay alert and safe, in any case.
- If you have bats in your house or anywhere near your house, you must make sure you that the bats are removed from your house to ensure the safety of your family and pets. Bats tend to bite if they are disturbed, therefore, make sure you are gentle while dealing with a bat. Bat guano is toxic, if you have an attic full of bats, do not touch anything in the attic as there might be a huge disposal of poisonous bat guano in that area. If you are infected or bitten by a bat, call emergency medical help immediately. Do not try to get rid of bats yourself; always call a professional to do the job.
Where to Learn More
To learn more about recognizing and providing first aid for animal bites and other environmental emergencies take a first aid program with the St Mark James. Find a provider by looking through our locations page. Courses are available in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Windsor, Halifax, Vancouver, Surrey and Toronto.