Animal Bites: When to Visit an ER
Animals defend themselves by biting objects or people who they perceive as threats. While biting may be a defense mechanism, it also can cause serious damage to people’s hands, limbs, faces, necks and other parts of the body. In fact, one percent of all emergency room visits in this country occur because of animals biting people. These top reasons explain why emergency medical help is often needed after a cat or dog bites a person.
Cats and dogs have bacteria in their mouths that can be dangerous to humans. When they bite people, they transfer that bacteria from their mouths to people’s skin. If the bite punctures a person’s skin, the bacteria then gets into the individual’s tissue and bloodstream.
When people suspect that their bites are infected, they should go to the ER immediately. It often only takes a few hours for signs of infection to appear. They can get antibiotics and have their bites properly cleaned to keep the infection at bay. Some of the more popular antibiotics given for animal bites include:
- Bactrim, Especially If the Doctor Suspects MRSA, a Form of Staph Infection
- Amoxicillin or Penicillin
Dogs have powerful jaws. They can bite so hard that it breaks a person’s bones. If people think that they have suffered a fracture after being bitten, they should get emergency medical help.
At the ER, they will have an x-ray done of the affected area. If need be, they will be given a cast or a sling, as well as antibiotics to keep infection out of the area.
Deep or Jagged Wounds
Many people downplay cat bites because they think that cats do not have big enough teeth to inflict any real damage. However, cats’ teeth are like sharp needles and can go deep inside people’s skin. Sometimes fragments of the teeth break off and become embedded in the tissue.
Dogs, on the other hand, have bigger and stronger teeth that can rip flesh into shreds. Dog bites often leave deep and jagged wounds that must be stitched. Regardless of what kind of animal bit them, people should seek ER care so that any embedded debris can be removed and deep and shredded skin can be stitched up properly.
It is bad enough to be bitten by one’s beloved pet. However, when the animal that inflicted the bite is not known to a person, this individual should go to the ER immediately.
Unknown cats and dogs could have rabies, which is often deadly in humans. When people go to the emergency room right away after being bitten by a strange animal, they can begin treatments that can help them avoid getting rabies. If they delay getting medical help, they could potentially develop this disease or suffer from other life-threatening consequences of being bitten.
One of the more common consequences of being bitten by an animal that can be prevented is developing tetanus. In fact, one of the first questions people will be asked at the emergency room is the date of their last tetanus booster.
If it has been longer than 10 years or if people cannot remember the date, they will receive a tetanus booster vaccination. This treatment will prevent them from developing tetanus from their wound.
Cats and dogs bite people as a way to defend themselves. Nonetheless, animal bites can pose a real danger to people who fail to act quickly after they have been bitten. These reasons explain why it is imperative that people go to the emergency room after they have been bitten by a dog or a cat.