Animal and human bites may cause puncture
wounds, cuts, scrapes, or crushing injuries. Most animal and human bites cause
minor injuries, and home treatment is usually all that is needed to care for
Most animal bites occur in school-age
children. The face, hands, arms, and legs are the most common sites for animal
bites. Since most bites occur in children, be sure to teach children to
be careful around animals and that an animal could hurt them. Young children
should always be supervised around animals.
Dog bites occur more than any other animal bite and are most
frequent in the summer months. The dog is usually known to the person, and most
injuries result from the dog being teased or bothered while eating or sleeping.
Boys are bitten about twice as often as girls. The arms, head, and neck are the
most likely areas to be bitten in children.
Cat bites usually cause deeper puncture wounds than dog bites
and have a high risk for bacterial infection because they can be hard to
Exotic pet bites, such as from rats,
mice, or gerbils, may carry illnesses, but
rabies is not usually a concern. The bites from some
pets, such as iguanas, are at risk for infection but do not carry other serious
Livestock, such as horses, cows, and
sheep, have powerful jaws and can cause crushing bite injuries. Infection,
tetanus, and rabies are possible risks.
Wild animal bites may occur while hunting,
camping, or hiking. Infection, tetanus, and rabies are possible risks.
Adult bites that cause a wound to the
hand can be serious. A clenched fist striking another person in the mouth and
teeth can cut or puncture the skin over the knuckles. This is commonly called a
"fight bite." Underlying tissues may be damaged, and an infection can
Bites from children are:
- Usually not very deep.
- Not as
forceful as adult bites.
- Not too likely to become
- Not damaging to underlying tissue.
When you have a bite:
- Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure. See
how to stop bleeding .
- Determine whether other tissues, such as
blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, or internal organs,
have been injured.
- Determine whether evaluation and treatment by a
doctor are needed.
- Clean the wound to prevent bacterial infections,
tetanus ("lockjaw"), and viral infections, such as
herpes simplex virus and
- Determine the risk
rabies and the need for treatment to prevent the
- Determine if you need a
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.