Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size

Animal and Human Bites: When Stitches Are Needed - Topic Overview

A bite injury may need to be closed by a health professional, may require antibiotic medicines, or both. The decision to close a wound with stitches, staples, or skin adhesive depends on:

  • The type of biting animal.
  • The size and location of the bite.
  • The time that has passed since the bite occurred.
  • The general health of the person bitten.

It is important to determine if your wound needs to be closed by a health professional. Your risk of infection increases the longer the wound remains untreated. Most wounds that require treatment should be stitched, stapled, or closed with skin adhesives (also called liquid stitches) within 6 to 8 hours after the injury. Some wounds that require treatment can be closed as long as 24 hours after the injury. If stitches may be needed, avoid using an antiseptic or antibiotic ointment until after a health professional has examined the wound.

Recommended Related to First Aid

Jaundice (Newborns)

Is not feeding well Is listless Has a fever

Read the Jaundice (Newborns) article > >

  • Most dog bites can be stitched, especially if the wound is large.
  • In general, cat bites are not stitched. Cat bites are usually puncture wounds and can be quite deep. Cat bites have a higher risk of infection than dog bites.
  • Human bites are not usually stitched unless they are on the face or ear. Human bites have a high risk of infection.
  • Most facial bites can be safely stitched. The risk of infection to the face is lower because the face normally has good blood flow. Because of good blood flow, a face wound may heal faster if it is stitched as soon as possible after a bite.
  • Bites to the hand or foot, whether from an animal or a human, are generally not stitched. These bites carry a high risk of infection, and stitching the wound further increases the likelihood of infection. In some situations, a dog bite to the hand may be stitched.
    Next Article:

    Animal and Human Bites: When Stitches Are Needed Topics

    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