- Conditions & treatments
New Zealand Dog Safety
Dog safety information from the Department of Internal Affairs.
Information from the UK National Health Service.
Better Health Channel
The Victoria (Australia) state government provides online consumer-focused health and medical information.
Animal and human bites
All bites that break the skin are serious. Even minor scrapes, such as in sports when someone’s mouth could graze your hand by accident, should be taken seriously.
You should always see your doctor after being bitten, as bites can easily become seriously infected. This is especially likely to happen with a bite that leaves a deep puncture wound.
Cat scratches can be as serious as cat bites, because cats constantly lick their claws and the claws carry germs from the cat’s mouth.
Certain types of dogs are more likely to bite. These include Dobermans, chows and pit bull terriers. Keep children, babies and small animals away from these unpredictable animals. Teach your children never to approach strange pets or any wild animals.
What to do for a bite that breaks the skin
- Control bleeding by applying pressure to the wound. Do not apply a tourniquet.
- If the animal bite appears serious, call 111 for emergency help.
- For minor wounds, wash the area with running water for at least five minutes. You can then clean it with an antiseptic solution.
- Don’t apply ointments or begin treatment with any kind of medicine.
- Place a sterile bandage over the wound.
If the animal is a pet and is confined, get the name and address of the owner.
If the animal is loose, capture it if you can safely do so. Don’t place others at risk of being bitten.
Contact the police or local animal control officer and report the bite.
See your doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment for bites
Your doctor will probably give you:
- a tetanus booster (if you have not had one within the past five to ten years)
- instructions in wound care.
- Do not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or aspirin-containing products to anyone 18 years or younger because of the risk of a serious illness called Reye's syndrome.
Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with food or milk to prevent stomach irritation. Do not give NSAIDs to anyone with:
- NSAID-induced asthma
- increased risk of bleeding, such as ulcer disease, a bleeding disorder, if taking blood thinners (anticoagulants), or following surgery, significant trauma or major dental work
- an allergy to NSAIDs.