Animal bites and scratches are a concern for animals and humans. Although this is primarily a pet site, in this video we are going to look at both pet and human first aid. Remember that simply by having animals in your house, there’s always the risk of you yourself receiving a bite or scratch.
If you’re unlucky enough to be bitten by an animal, there is not only the initial wound to deal with but also the risk of infection and potential conditions such as Cellulitis. Animals carry different bacteria in their mouths and these can pose a more serious risk to both children and the elderly who have a weaker immune system. Dog bites may look worse simply because their teeth are larger but cats, with their sharper, more pointed teeth, can penetrate deeply into the tissues. Cat bites are more likely to introduce bacteria deep into the wound, causing a potentially serious infection and damage to tendons and ligaments.
Cat bites and scratches pose different risks that can spread a bacterial infection and these are called cat-scratch diseases or CSD’s. Symptoms of a CSD generally occur 3-10 days after the bite or scratch was inflicted. The area may appear swollen, red and might have a discharge puss oozing from it, it might also feel warm or be painful. An infected person can also have a fever, a headache, poor appetite, and feel tired. Generally, CSD is not serious and in fact, medical treatment might not be required.
As a first aider, initially ensure that the scene is safe and you are not going to get hurt by what has hurt the patient.Wash the wound area with soap and warm water or a first aid mild disinfectant solution.
Dry the wound with a clean gauze from your first aid kit and then cover it with a sterile dressing.
If the bite is large, deep or the skin is torn, get professional help or call the EMS.
Where the wound becomes swollen, painful or the patient becomes unwell, seek a Doctor as antibiotics or other treatments may be required and if you suspect a risk of rabies, get the patient to the hospital as soon as possible.
People often panic and assume that a tetanus injection is needed, but actually, the risks of tetanus a bite are minimal, as the disease is found to be present in the soil, not in the mouths of animals. Where the wound is dirty and the patient is unsure if they have had a tetanus injection, advise them to see a Doctor immediately.
Finally, if you are dealing with a human bite, there can be a small risk of the transmission of infections such as Hepatitis or HIV, but if in doubt, talk to a Doctor.