Most animal bites in the United States are from dogs and cats:
Dog bites usually leave ragged, torn skin
Cat bites are deep puncture wounds that often become infected
Bites from wild animals and domestic animals (like horses, cows, and pigs) are rare. Bites from large animals can seriously hurt you. Bites from small animals can give you an infection.
What should I do if I get bitten by an animal?
You should take care of your wound and then get help:
Clean your wound with lots of soap and water
Don't put alcohol, iodine, or any other kind of antiseptics on your wound
Stop any bleeding—firmly press down on your wound with a clean cloth
Go to a doctor right away
What problems do animal bites cause?
Animal bites can become infected
An infected bite is painful, swollen, and red
Rarely, bites from some animals can give you rabies
Rabies Rabies Rabies is a deadly viral infection that causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis) in people and in animals. The most common way to get rabies is to be bitten by an infected... read more is a deadly virus you can get from an animal bite. The animal has to have rabies before it can give you rabies. Not all animals can get rabies.
In the United States, pets are usually vaccinated against rabies, so rabies in pets is rare. Rabies is more likely in certain wild animals, such as bats, raccoons, skunks, or foxes. Rabies is usually not a concern with bites from rabbits, squirrels, hamsters, rats, and mice.
If you are bitten by an animal, you should call your doctor or go immediately to a hospital. The doctor will decide whether you need rabies shots.
How do doctors treat an animal bite?
Flush out the inside of the wound with sterile saline (germ-free salt water)
Cut any torn skin away from the edge of the wound
Close the wound with stitches, if needed
Give you medicine to prevent infection
How can I prevent a dog bite?
Never leave a baby or young child alone with a dog
Don’t disturb dogs when they're eating or resting
Ask a dog’s owner before petting the dog
Stay calm if a dog comes toward you, and hold still or back away slowly
Do not try to separate dogs that are fighting