How to treat common animal bites

Treat common animal bites - Healthians

Contributed by – Preksha Buttan

All of us are at risk of getting bitten by animals at any given time. It could be a wild animal that you come across while camping or a street dog that you thought was harmless. In fact, it could also be your own pet. These animal bites pose a major public health risk in children and adults. The risk of these bites depends on the health of the animal, health of the bitten person and the availability of proper treatment.

The list of animals that you need to stay away from is pretty long (and you already know about the most dangerous ones). However, we will discuss the most commonly found animals and what you should IMMEDIATELY do if they attack you. Yes, you should always seek help from a professional but sometimes, that could take some time due to any reason. So, these first aid tips will help you by the time you get medical help.


Treating dog bite - Healthians

Dog bite

You must have asked your parents to get you a pet dog and you’re lucky if they listened to you. We all adore dogs and why shouldn’t we? They are so friendly and cute. But even these friendly animals can become violent at times and can bite you even if they have been living with you for years. WHO says, 1.75 million dog bites happen every year in India. Since children are more at risk of getting bitten by a dog, it is your responsibility to keep your child safe. If you or anyone around you happens to get a dog bite, this is how you should give them immediate help until professional help reach them.

  • Wash the wound with warm water and soap.
  • Gently press the wound to promote a little bleeding. This will help to flush out the germs. Or cover the area with a clean cloth if it’s already bleeding.
  • Apply antibacterial ointment to and around the wound.
  • Cover the wound with a sterile bandage.
  • Look out for the signs of infections such as swelling, redness, pus, loss of function in the affected area.

Seek professional help if the pain doesn’t subside, vaccination history of the dog is unknown, the dog was acting erratically, or if the wound is deep and bleeding doesn’t stop.


Treating cat bite - Healthians

Cat bite

Whether you are a dog lover or a cat lover, you are at risk of getting a bite from any of them. Cats may cuddle you all day but their long and sharp canines or nails can hurt you. And since they are long they go deep into your skin and leave germs there. The upper layer of the skin might heal quickly, but if not treated with care, the infection can develop over time which might spread to other parts of the body.

  • Wash the wound immediately under running water.
  • Clean the wound with a disinfectant but make sure it’s not too harsh as strong chemicals can damage the tissue even more.
  • Apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth, if it’s bleeding.
  • Cover the wound with a bandage.

It is advisable to seek professional help to reduce the chances of the wound getting infected. Sometimes the wound might need stitches and that should always be done by a professional.


Treat monkey bite - Healthians

Monkey bite

Spotting a monkey in the urban setting is rare but if you are traveling to hill stations, you’ll meet plenty of them. You might feed them on the way and walk away but that is when they could attack you. Monkeys are known for snatching food items (they have also started snatching mobile phones and cameras so keep them safe too). And if you would try to fight back, they would scratch or bite you. In such a situation, your first aid treatment of the wound would be similar to that of a dog or a cat. However, dogs and cats are often vaccinated for rabies but these monkeys of the mountains are not. Thus, it is necessary for you to see a doctor to get proper examination of the wound and to also get needed vaccines to prevent the complications.


Bat bite

These creepy looking mammals carry diseases with them which they can transmit through their droppings or by biting. Most of the bats are infected with rabies and hence, it is necessary to seek the immediate help of a professional. As far as first aid treatment of wound is concerned, it is again similar to the bites of other mammals.


Treat snake bite - Healthians


Most snakes aren’t dangerous, but you never know which one you are dealing with. If you have been bitten by a venomous snake, symptoms of that would be – color changes of the bitten area, swelling, pain or getting unconscious. Bollywood movies and daily soaps have popularized the idea of sucking the venom out of the wound and becoming the hero. But that is wrong on so many levels. Never try to suck the wound, instead, do the following.

  • First of all, move away from the snake’s striking area and call the emergency.
  • While help reaches you, position yourself in such a way that the wound is lower than the level of the heart.
  • Stay calm and still to prevent the venom from spreading in the body.
  • Clean the wound with soap and warm water and cover it with a loose bandage.
  • Remove any kind of jewelry or tight clothing from the area that has been bitten.
  • Try to recall how the snake looked like. That would help the doctor to understand the severity of the wound.

Chronic diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases can affect the healing process of the wound. Your doctor needs to know whether you are on any medications for such diseases before prescribing any other antibiotics for the wound. Hence, clearly describe your medical condition to the doctor.

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