Your cat or dog’s safety is an utmost concern when you are around other animals—whether wild or domesticated. When you are out and about with your pet, you may not be prepared for a bite from another animal, but they happen frequently. In fact, bites are one of the most common pet injuries.

The veterinarians at VETMED know that accidental animal bites can happen in seconds, and these stressful moments can be made worse if pet owners don’t know how to react to the situation.

Wildlife Bites

Many pets love being outside (some may even live predominately outside), but there are other animals that reside in the great outdoors that don’t always enjoy their presence. Animals like coyotes, possums, and raccoons may be as close as your backyard in some instances and being so close to wildlife puts your pet at risk for animal bites.

Other animals like scorpions, spiders, and snakes can be venomous, which makes their bites require even more critical care. A bite from a venomous animal needs to be treated immediately by a veterinarian, as the toxins can get into the bloodstream and cause all kinds of issues, and even lead to death.

Dog Bites

Dogs are social creatures, and some dogs love a lot of interactions with other dogs. Social interactions are good for your pet, and they often provide a chance for your dog to relieve some stress and get a little exercise. At times, however, social encounters don’t go as planned and a fight breaks out or one dog bites another.

During these times, it is important that you are prepared to get your dog out of the situation as soon as possible and get the bleeding quelled.

Treating Bite Wounds

Basic first aid is going to be extremely important during the moments following animal bites. If your pet is bitten by another animal, carry them away from the area. Allowing your pet to walk can increase blood loss. The next thing you need to do is control the loss of blood. Find clean fabric to apply pressure to the bite.

If your pet is bitten on a limb by something that is venomous, apply a tourniquet. Not only does this help stop bleeding, but it also helps prevent the venom from spreading throughout the body. You will want to loosen the tourniquet for half a minute every five or ten minutes, however, to prevent complete loss of blood flow to the limb.

Once you have the bleeding to a level that is manageable, you need to get your pet in to see a veterinarian. If you can’t get the bleeding under control, try to continue to apply pressure while you make your way to a veterinarian. You will also want to keep your pet warm and comfortable on the way to the veterinarian.

If bitten by another dog, get the contact information from the owner just in case you need it later. For pets bitten by a wild animal, try to determine the source of the animal bite. Take a minute or two to safely look around the area to see if you notice an animal that could’ve bitten your pet. This information will help your veterinarian determine if rabies protocol should be followed.

Visiting a Veterinarian

When dealing with animal bites, it is a good idea to seek emergency veterinary care—especially if you believe a venomous or potentially rabid animal was involved. If possible, place a call into the emergency veterinary hospital you are headed to before you leave or while en route to let them know what happened and that you are on your way.

The veterinarian will clean the bite wound. If the bite is small, your dog might be given an antibiotic and sent home. If the bite is large, it may need to be surgically drained. For pets that have been bitten by a venomous animal, an antivenin treatment will be required. For severe bites, pain medication may be provided to your pet to keep them comfortable and to allow for stitches to be put in.

Home Care

After being seen by a veterinarian, your pet will need some additional care at home. First, provide any medications to your pet as instructed by the veterinarian. If your pet had stitches put in, you need to keep the area dry and clean. For wounds that have been left open to heal, you may need to clean the area with warm water and a soft washcloth. Your vet may also want you to use a disinfectant. The important thing is to follow the instructions you are given by your veterinarian.

If your pet gets bitten by another animal in the area, VETMED in Phoenix, Arizona has an emergency hospital open 24/7, 376 days a year where your pet can be treated. VETMED can be reached at 602-697-4694.