Animal Bites and Children - First Aid and Precautionary Measures - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Animal Bites and Children : First Aid and Precautionary Measures

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 8 Jul 2014 - 11:48.


Animal bites are not uncommon in infants. This is very common when infants are left alone to play with pet animals like cats and dogs at home. Children get bitten when they play with pet animals by pulling the tail, or disturbing the pet while eating or sleeping.

The wound so caused by the animal bite may be big or small. It may be superficial or very deep depending on the severity of the bite based on the ferocity of the pet animal.

First Aid: If the wound is clearly a minor one like a superficial scratch, washing the area with soap and water and after dabbing it dry with a clean towel, applying an antibiotic ointment, twice a day helps. If the part affected is exposed to dirt, it is advised to cover the wound with an adhesive bandage. Otherwise, allow the wound to be exposed to the air.

If the injury seems serious with the skin broken and bleeding, applying a gauze pad or wrapping the wound with a clean cloth will help stop bleeding. After the bleeding stops, the bitten area should be covered with a bandage and the child should be taken to the doctor. If the injury is deeper and needs stitches, the child must be immediately taken to the nearest emergency unit.

Bite Location: Animal bites to the face or neck are especially dangerous since major blood vessels pass through the neck, which may open up. The bleeding should be stopped by applying pressure in such cases. If the bleeding does not stop, emergency services should be called for.

Generally most of the dogs in our country are not vaccinated for rabies. Therefore, the possibility of the dogs carrying the rabies virus is very high. If the dog, which has bitten, behaves strangely or foams at the mouth, try to capture the dog (taking care to avoid physical contact) to check if the dog has been vaccinated for rabies or not. Accidental bites by wild animals can carry the risk of rabies.

If your child carries a risk of rabies, a series of anti-rabies injections must be arranged.

Besides rabies, animal bites are known to cause infection. The saliva of dogs and cats is known to harbor a wide variety of bacteria. Statistics reveal that about 80 percent of animal bites transmit infection. This is why one should thoroughly wash the area of bite with an antiseptic lotion and apply an antibiotic ointment. If the bite is serious the doctor may prescribe oral or intramuscular antibiotics.

However, minor the wound may appear it is essential to take ATS (Anti Tetanus Serum) injection if the child is not up-to-date in the immunization schedules. If the wound is superficial and you prefer to dress it yourself, make sure to watch it closely for any evidence of infection like pus formation or delayed healing. If the child develops fever after the bite, it is possible the wound is infected. The golden rule is "consult a doctor if the wound is not healed within 10 days from the bite"

Precautions: Though one can never tell when a dog or cat is going to bite a child, one should follow certain precautions against such bites. Never leave a child alone with your pet. Teach the child not to approach cats or dogs. Even if the dog is highbred or pedigreed it will certainly bite if provoked. Teach your child never to go near a dog when it is eating or sleeping.The choice of pet dogs is equally important. Bull Terriers, German Shepherds and Dobermans are not considered good pets for young children. Never take a risk with these varieties.


*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.