Skip to content

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size

Animal and Human Bites - Check Your Symptoms

Call a doctor if:

  • The wound is severe and may need stitches, or it is on your face, hand, or foot, or over a joint. If the wound needs stitches, you should get them within 6 to 8 hours.
  • The bite or scratch is from a bat or other wild animal.
  • The bite is from a human or a cat. These bites get infected quickly and easily.
  • The animal that bit you foams at the mouth, acts strangely, or attacked for no clear reason. Also call the local animal control or public health office.
  • You can't find the owner of a pet that bit you, or the owner can't confirm that the pet's rabies vaccine is up to date.
  • You lose feeling or movement below the wound.
  • You have signs of infection. These may include increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness; red streaks leading from the wound; pus; and fever.
  • You have not had a tetanus shot in the past 5 years or don't know when your last shot was. If you need a shot, you should get it as soon as possible.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Antibiotic on hand
    3d scan of fractured skull
    Father putting ointment on boy's face
    Person taking food from oven
    sniffling child
    wound care true or false
    caring for wounds
    Harvest mite

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    WebMD the app

    Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

    Find Out More