When thinking about animal bites, most parents assume that their child is most likely to be bit by a strange or wild animal.
Unfortunately, most bites are inflicted by animals the child knows, including beloved family pets.
Dog bites are the most common, followed by cat bites and scratches.
Injuries caused by animal bites are often mild, but can also cause serious wounds and infections.
Tips for Preventing Dog Bites
Never leave your small child alone with a dog!
Any dog can bite.
Even your family dog or a dog well known to your child or family that is otherwise well behaved.
Teach your child how to interact with dogs safely.
Teach your child to ask a dog’s owner for permission before petting their dog.
Do not allow your child to play aggressive games with a dog that could lead to bites (i.e. tug-of-war or wrestling).
Teach your child to never bother a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
Teach your child to move calmly and slowly around dogs.
Teach your child that if a dog is behaving in a threatening manner—for example, growling and barking—to remain calm, avoid eye contact with the dog, and back away slowly until the dog loses interest and leaves.
If you or your child is knocked over by a dog, curl up in a ball and protect the eyes and face with arms and fists.
Initial Home Care For Animal Bites
If your child is bleeding from an animal bite:
Apply firm continuous pressure to the area with gauze or a clean towel for 5 minutes or until the bleeding stops.
Next, wash the wound gently with soap and warm water.
Apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a band-aid.
Request proof of rabies vaccination from the dog's owner.
Get the dog owner's name and contact information.
Ask for the name and telephone number of a veterinarian who is familiar with the dog's vaccination records and history.
When to Reach Out to the Modern Pediatrics Team
Any animal bite which breaks the skin, no matter how minor it may appear, so that we can:
Check your child’s tetanus vaccine status
Discuss infection prevention
Discuss rabies concerns
You suspect that your child’s wound is becoming infected based on the following signs:
Pus or drainage coming from the bite wound
The area around the bite becomes more swollen, red, and tender 48 hours after the initial bite
Your child starts running a fever (100.4 or higher)
Red streaks appear to spread out from the bite
The type of bite is more prone to becoming infected:
Moderate or severe wounds
Puncture wounds, especially over a bone, tendon, or joint
Hand and foot bites
Genital area bites
How to Care for a Bite That Does Not Break the Skin
Clean well with soap and water.
You do not need to apply a band-aid when the skin is not broken.
Monitor for signs of infection as mentioned above.