An animal bite can break, puncture, or tear into the skin. Animal bites that break the skin can put you at risk for infections.
Majority of animal bites come from pets. Dog bites are the most common one and will often happen to children. Compared to adults, children are much more likely to be bitten on the face, head, or neck.
Cat bites are less common but have a higher risk of infection. This is because cat teeth are longer, sharper, which can penetrate and puncture the skin, creating deeper wounds. Other animal bites are mostly caused by stray animals, majority of them being skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats. Bites that cause a puncture wound are more likely to become infected. Some animals are infected with a virus that can cause rabies, which is rare, but can be deadly.
Symptoms of an animal bite may include: pain, bleeding, numbness, and tingling.
The injury could also result in:
Breaks or major cuts in the skin, with or without bleeding
Bruising of the skin
Crushing injuries that can cause severe tissue tears and scarring
Tendon or joint injury resulting in decreased motion and function of the injured tissue
Most animal bites can be treated at home with washing the wound, keeping it dry, and applying an antibacterial ointment to the injury to prevent infection.
However, wild animals and unknown pets could be carrying rabies or any other infections when they bite you. If you have been bitten by a wild or stray animal, contact your provider right away. For any bite that breaks the skin, see your provider within 24 hours.
Go to the emergency room if:
There is swelling, redness, or pus draining from the wound