Animal Bites Treatment

Call 911 if:

  • The person has been seriously wounded.
  • Bleeding can't be stopped after 10 minutes of firm and steady pressure.
  • Bleeding is severe.
  • Blood spurts from the wound.

1. Stop Bleeding

  • Apply direct pressure until bleeding stops.

2. Clean and Protect

For a wound or superficial scratch from an animal bite:

  • Gently clean with soap and warm water. Rinse for several minutes after cleaning.
  • Apply antibiotic cream to reduce risk of infection, and cover with a sterile bandage.

3. Get Help

  • Get medical help immediately for any animal bite that is more than a superficial scratch or if the animal was a wild animal or stray, regardless of the severity of the injury.
  • If the animal's owner is available, find out if the animal's rabies shots are up-to-date. Give this information to your healthcare provider.
  • If the animal was a stray or wild animal, call the local health department or animal control immediately.

4. Follow Up

  • The healthcare provider will make sure the wound is thoroughly clean and may prescribe antibiotics.
  • The healthcare provider may numb the wound and look for any deeper damage.
  • If there is any risk of rabies infection, the health care provider will recommend anti-rabies treatment.
  • The person may require stitches, depending on how big the wound is and where it is located.
  • The person may also require a tetanus shot or booster.
  • The health care provider may recommend acetaminophen (Panadol, Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) for pain.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on January 17, 2020



University of Maryland Medical Center: "First Aid: Animal Bites and Rabies." "Animal Bites." "Cat and Dog Bites."

Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine: "What You Should Know About Animal Bites."

American Society for Surgery of the Hand: "Animal Bites."

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