Animal Bites

Bites from dogs and other animals can be jagged and often get infected. Even if an animal bite has just punctured the skin, it is important to wash the wound really well and look out for any signs of infection. It is sensible to get any bite that has punctured the skin looked at by a vet. Small-looking wounds can be deceptively large as there can be considerable damage underneath the skin and fur. Bites get infected easily; they need to be cleaned thoroughly by a medical professional and vets usually prescribe antibiotics.

If the wound looks red and becomes inflamed, hot, or angry looking, it is getting infected they will definitely need antibiotics.

Treating the bite

The initial treatment for an animal bite is the same as for any other wound, except it is important to wash it immediately with clean water and antibacterial soap. The steps are as follows:

  • Reassure your pet and phone the vet. All bite wounds should be seen by a vet ASAP.
  • If the vet is unavailable, wash the wound thoroughly with clean water (and antibacterial soap depending on the location of the wound).
  • Stop any bleeding by elevating the wound and applying pressure.
  • Get to a vet as soon as you can.

Note: Outside the UK, if a human is bitten or licked in a wound, it is really important to get medical attention very fast and have anti-rabies medication. It is also important to ensure that they are covered for tetanus.


First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

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