First Aid Handbook- Animal Bites

A man steps on a snake
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Whether it is a little kid who is getting too close to someone’s pet or a gardening adult who accidentally puts their hand too close to a wild animal, we sometimes encounter creatures who would rather we stay further away. Instincts take over and these animals will defend themselves by clawing, scratching, and sometimes biting. Integrity Urgent Care sees a fair number of animal bites in our patient rooms and has tips on what to do if this happens to you.



Some animals will barely nip in an attempt to get away, using this as a warning sign rather than a full bite, you may only get scratched. Other animals will bite and hold on in full defense mode, leaving puncture marks and theoretically more damage like injecting venom or breaking bones in the process. There could be pain at the injury site, bleeding, or swelling.



Minor scratches and bites can be washed and kept clean, while monitoring for further issues. This is especially true for pets you know are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. You can also use an antibiotic cream and bandage the bite. Serious wounds need to be seen by a doctor, especially if you are bitten by a wild animal, an unvaccinated pet, or are not up to date on your tetanus shot.


When to See a Doctor

If there is a deep puncture wound or a scratch is showing signs of infection, you need to see a doctor. Additionally, if you are bitten by a snake or wild animal, you will want to see a doctor immediately to assess your risk for venom or rabies. The Mayo Clinic suggests that bats are prone to carrying rabies and it is difficult to tell if a bat has bitten you or not. Due to this difficulty, if you have come into close contact with a bat or wake up with a bat in your room or home, you need to head to a doctor immediately to be checked out.



The best form of prevention is to avoid the animal entirely, if possible. Sometimes that isn’t possible, so it is important to exercise caution. When gardening in thick bushes, running on trails, or exploring tall grass, wear protective clothing when possible. Try to stay on areas that area clear and keep eyes peeled for animals who may see you as a threat. With pets, always ask the owner before you approach the animal in question and ask the best way to engage with their pet. Train your children to wait until they are given permission, so they don’t startle someone else’s otherwise mild-mannered furry friend.


Integrity Urgent Care is the perfect location to get treatment for an incident involving any animal, whether it be from a pet or wild. Our medical staff can see you quickly, get you the individualized treatment you need, and get you back to exploring the great outdoors, a little wiser, quickly. To treat your animal bites or other common ailments, come see us at one of our several locations.

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