Skin abrasions

Animal and human bites: Proper management

Serious cases of animal and human bites are at risk for infection if not evaluated and properly managed. It is best to seek medical care if bitten by an animal or human that results to a break in the skin.

Animals and humans harbor a large number of bacteria in the mouth which can trigger an infection if a bite breaks the skin. Remember that these infections are seldom life-threatening if cared for promptly, but occasionally spread to the blood or other parts of the body.

How to care for animal and human bites

If an individual sustained an animal or human bite, the following should be performed:

  • Cleanse the wound right away under running warm tap water for a couple of minutes. This should be done even if the skin does not appear broken.
  • Get rid of any objects in the bite site such as dirt, hair or teeth.
  • Allow the wound to slightly bleed by lightly pressing on it unless it is already flowing freely.
    Animal and human bites
    If the wound is heavily bleeding, apply a clean padding or sterile dressing over and place pressure.
  • If the wound is heavily bleeding, apply a clean padding or sterile dressing over and place pressure.
  • Dry the wound and cover with a clean dressing or plaster.
  • Provide pain medications if in pain.

In case a bite has detached a body part, you have to cleanse it using tap water. After washing, cover it with clean cloth and store in a plastic bag surrounding by ice so that it can be taken to a healthcare facility. Take note that it might be possible to reattach the body part surgically later.

Indications of an infected bite

The following symptoms indicate that a wound is infected:

  • Swelling and redness around the wound
  • Wound feels warm and increasingly sore
  • Sweats and chills
  • Drainage of fluid or pus from the wound
  • Fever of 38 degrees C or higher
  • Swollen glands beneath the chin or in the neck, groin or armpits
  • Reddened streaks that radiate away from the wound

When do bites occur?

Even though you might be worried about bites from stray and wild animals, any animal has the potential to deliver a bite.

Most cases of bites are actually caused by a pet of the individual or an animal belonging to a neighbor or friend.

It is important to note that animals have the tendency to act in an unpredictable manner and bites are not always provoked. Nevertheless, an animal is likely to bite if disturbed, becomes overexcited and feels threatened.

As for human bites, they occur if an individual punched another in the mouth. The bites can also take place during contact sports, domestic violence or seizures.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on animal and human bites is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage and perform proper wound care on animal and human bites, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are located in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Victoria, Ottawa and Halifax.

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