Animal Bites

Animal bites can very quickly become infected or they can lay dormant for quite some time.  Dog, cat, squirrel, bat, fox and human bites are the worst, and these animal bites can cause serious problems which should be cared for by a physician as soon as possible.

animal bites


In most animal bite circumstances, we are concerned with a rabies infection. Rabies is a type of infection that is caused when an animal is bitten by an animal that is infected.  They are rabid, distempered, and frothing at the mouth usually. Rabies can easily be transmitted by animal bit to a human transmitted to a human.

If you get bitten by a neighbor’s pet, you need to ensure that you have or are able to get the immunization records of the animal to make sure that they are up to date and have had the rabies vaccine.  If a wild animal bit you, then it needs to be trapped and tested for rabies. You might have to have a series of rabies vaccine injections if you can’t locate the animal, and can’t be sure that it didn’t have rabies.


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Other Types Of Infections From Animal Bites

In many cases, animal bites cause bacterial infections in humans due to several types of bacteria present in the animals mouth. These bacteria  frequently reside in the gingival, which are the pockets in the pet’s mouth where the gums and tooth meet, and on the animal’s tooth plaque.

When an animal nips or bites you a majority of the time, it will be a superficial scraping that will usually drain at the surface. However, in serious animal bites, where the bite deeply penetrates the skin and leaves bacteria inside the skin, then very serious infections can be caused.

Cat Bites Can Be Worse

Cats for some reason appear to have a low incidence when it comes to bites with an initial infection.  However, those infectious organisms in a cat’s mouth can be quite devastating when they do end up causing infections. The farther away from the heart they are or down towards the toes and fingertips, the higher the chance of infection due to less blood supply being directed from those sites.

In other words, a thigh or upper arm usually is less likely to become infected as compared to the toes or fingertips. Usually, lower extremity animal bites appear to be worse compared to upper extremities.

A serious cat bite it might be worse since that is a more porous kind of tooth structure and contains more bacteria as well. The tooth of the cat is smaller and sharper, and it penetrates more deeply which leaves more bacteria in the wound and often becomes infected.  This wound might be swollen, red and warm within a couple of hours. The wound can later swell up with pus underneath the skin.  Often the lymphatics are involved which causes red streaks from the site that move up towards your heart.  That is blood poisoning.

Red Streak On Skin Is A Sign Of Infection

This red streak that you see, particularly in cat bites, is an indication of a lymphatic infection that is not under control.  It can cause sepsis, severe infection, blood poisoning, loss of a limb or even death if it isn’t treated properly and immediately.

Animal Bites Can Infect Bones

Following an infection, there might be some pain for quite some time and the concern is the bite might have gone down and a bone might have been nicked which can cause the bone to get infected as well.  An infected bone can require additional treatment.

If you have been bitten by a wild animal, the usually it will need to be trapped and tested for rabies.  Pet immunizations must be verified for rabies.  Don’t wait or hesitate for your physician to treat you for this.

A majority of infections from numerous domestic animals will just heal.  Usually, you will know fairly quickly since ones that are infected will start to get swollen and hot quickly, and won’t show any improvement.

See a doctor if you are in doubt. You need to have an experienced physician evaluate the animal bite, and any resulting infection.  Make sure to have a tetanus immunization done and keep it current.

If you have other health problems such as heart problems, a major organ disease such as kidney failure, cancer, blood disorders, immune suppression, or take steroids, then it is even more important for you to see your doctor as soon as possible if your animal bite becomes infected.

If you have been bitten by an animal and you can safely come to ER Specialists, we would love to help you.  If you are alone or have any doubt about getting to our facility safely, or, believe you are experiencing a medical emergency please call 911. 

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