Children's Health and Wellness

Facts About Animal Bites

Most animal bites require treatment based on the type and severity of the wound. Whether the bite is from a family pet or an animal in the wild, scratches and bites can become infected and cause scarring. Animals can also carry diseases that can be transmitted through a bite. Bites that break the skin and bites of the scalp, face, hand, wrist, or foot are more likely to become infected. Cat scratches, even from a kitten, can carry "cat scratch disease," a bacterial infection.

Other animals can transmit rabies and tetanus. Rodents, such as mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and rabbits, are at low risk of carrying rabies, but they may transmit other diseases.

The most common type of animal bite is a dog bite. Follow these guidelines to help decrease the chance of your child being bitten by an animal:

  • Never leave a young child alone with an animal.

  • Teach your child not to tease or hurt animals.

  • Teach your child to avoid strange dogs, cats, and other animals.

  • Have your pets licensed and immunized against rabies and other diseases.

  • Keep your pets in a fenced yard or secured to a leash.

Online Source: Dog Bites: How to Teach Your Children to Be Safe, American Academy of Family Physicianshttp://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/pets-animals/dog-bites-how-to-teach-your-children-to-be-safe.html
Online Source: Animal Bites, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeonshttp://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00002
Online Source: Animal Bites, American Academy of Pediatricshttps://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Animal-Bites.aspx
Online Source: Cat Scratch Disease, American Academy of Pediatricshttps://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Cat-Scratch-Disease.aspx
Online Source: Hamsters and Mice Can Cause Illness, American Academy of Pediatricshttps://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Hamsters-and-Mice-Can-Cause-Illness.aspx
Online Source: Treatment for Animal Bites, American Academy of Pediatricshttps://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Treatment-for-Animal-Bites.aspx
Online Editor: Tchang, Kimberly
Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.