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That Bites! What You Need to Know About Biting Injuries

That Bites! What You Need to Know About Biting Injuries
That Bites! What You Need to Know About Biting Injuries
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Animals do bite the hand that feeds them – as well as the hands that don’t. This means taking care when handling your own pets when they are agitated, sick or injured and staying away from animals you don’t know.  If you are unlucky enough to be bitten here’s DCOC’s advice:


  •  First aid. If the wound is bleeding, apply simple continuous pressure until it stops. Then, clean the bite area over and over with liquid soap under running tap water.
  •  If you’re unlucky enough to have an “avulsed” part, in other words, a body part bitten clean off (such as a finger or ear) try to stay calm, put it in a plastic bag then in a container of iced water. This is gruesome to even think about, let alone do. But do you must. Putting it on ice will keep it fresh for possible surgical reattachment.
  •  The next step is to seek medical attention. If your bite is from a wild animal and it was unprovoked, tell the doctor you’re worried about rabies – because you should be.
  •  Most cat bites get infected, so antibiotics from the get go is the rule. Only 1 in 10 dog bites get infected, so the need for antibiotics is decided on an individual basis.
  •  Bites are rarely, if ever, sutured because of the risk of infection and abscess formation.  For cosmetic reasons, your face is the exception to the suture rule. And over the years I’ve seen some ugly facial wounds on people who’d never dream their beautiful pooch would bite them which beings me to my question of the day: do you really need to kiss your pooch?
  •  If you get a bite, regardless of the severity, it’s a good opportunity to get your tetanus updated. Depending on your age, a Tdap vaccine is a good choice. It’ll also cover you for whooping cough, which is an epidemic now.
  •  Human bites have the added risk of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Herpes Simplex and, rarely, HIV. So, it’s a huge help to know the biter’s medical history and have them screened for these infections.
  •  If the bite wound becomes red and painful or you develop a fever, even while on antibiotics, seek medical help immediately. The longer you leave it, the more difficult the wound is to treat. Hand wounds, especially, may require specialized intervention by a hand surgeon–and, if it’s the hand you write or work with, you get the picture. You’ll be out of action for weeks unless you get prompt treatment. Our bond with animals, especially our household pets, is wonderful for us as individuals and for our entire family. It’s important to remember, however, that they are animals and potentially can bite at any time. So, Dr. Chambers On Call urges you to use common sense and show the animals the respect they deserve by giving them their space.

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