Although bites from wild and stray animals may be more concerning, every animal can bite. Many bites are caused by a person’s pet or a friend or neighbor’s animal. Animals can be unpredictable, and bites aren’t usually the result of provocation. When an animal is upset, feels threatened, or becomes overexcited, it is more prone to bite. Your Houston, TX emergency room doctor will examine your risk of infection, look for any other injuries, and keep scarring to a minimum. The following bites represent the greatest risk of disease and should be assessed as soon as possible:

  • Bites from dogs.
  • Bites from cats.
  • Bites from wild animals.

Treatments for animal bites

Serious animal bites necessitate a trip to the doctor. The doctors will be able to advise you on the best course of action. They will also evaluate whether you require any disease-specific vaccines. It is considered severe if a bite produces more harm than a minor scratch. If the animal was a stray or a wild animal, seek immediate medical attention regardless of the severity of the injuries. Following an animal bite, the following tests are routinely performed:

a.       Inspection – Debris is meticulously studied in wounds. Before your doctor checks your wound, you may be given a numbing drug.

b.      X-Rays – Your doctor might order x-rays to check for bone fractures. They can also use an X-ray to ensure there is not any debris in the wound that is not obvious on visual inspection. It is simple to overlook foreign material, such as dirt or grass.

c.       Irrigation – To clean the wound properly, your doctor will irrigate it. This is critical to avoid infection. Irrigation may not always prevent infection, although it lowers the chances. A local anesthetic may be applied to reduce pain.

d.      Debridement – Animal bites can cause irreversible skin injuries. A technique called debridement may be required to remove dead or contaminated skin and tissue that cannot be regenerated. Debridement can be painful at times. This technique may necessitate the use of a local anesthetic.

e.       Closure – Stitches are rarely used to close puncture wounds. However, some bite wounds must be sutured (stitched) right away.

How can you avoid animal bites?

Dogs are responsible for most animal bites. The following suggestions will help you prevent being bitten:

  • Never leave a young child alone with a dog – Regardless of the breed or the dog’s previous behavior. 
  • Dogs should be treated with care – Do not rush up to them, run around screaming in their presence, or disturb them when they are eating or resting.
  • Stroking or petting unfamiliar canines is not a good idea – Allow a dog to sniff you before stroking it while greeting it for the first time.

Additionally, it is smart to stay away from wild or stray animals, especially when traveling abroad, because they can be aggressive and transmit deadly viruses like rabies.

If you have been bitten, you should see a physician immediately for various reasons. There is a chance you will get an infection like bacterial or rabies, broken animal teeth, foreign objects in your wound, and possibly nerve and blood vessel injury. Call Houston Medical ER or schedule an appointment online to learn more about animal bites.

By Alexander James

Beau Alexander James: Beau, a mental health advocate, shares personal stories, coping strategies, and promotes mental health awareness and understanding.