By: Dr. LouAnne Ten Kate, Five Star Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director
With the weather becoming warmer, many people, as well as animals, are spending more time outdoors – increasing the risk of animal bites, both from household pets and unfamiliar animals. Throughout the year, the national medical community sees between two and five million patients seeking treatment for animal-caused cuts, lacerations and bites. The medical costs for dog bites estimated at $165 million per year.
Dog bites (pictured below) are often caused by pets that the victim knows. Injuries range from puncture wounds and large cuts, to broken bones and missing tissue. Since most cat bites are provoked, they often cause harm to upper extremities, such as hands and arms. Cats have long, slender teeth that cause deep puncture wounds, which can introduce bacteria into the deeper structures, leading to significant infections.
Here are some animal bite prevention tips to follow:
- Choose the right pet for your family – work with your local animal shelter, rescue organization, or reputable breeder to ask about any previous history of aggressive behavior
- Obtain the appropriate training for a domestic pet
- Spend time with the animal prior to bringing him/her into your home
- Teach children how to be safe around dogs and cats:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar animal
- Do not run from a dog or scream
- Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar animal
- If knocked over by an animal, roll into a ball and be still
- Do not play with an animal unless supervised by an adult
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies
- Do not pet an animal without allowing it to see and sniff you first
- If bitten, immediately notify an adult
For those who have bitten by an animal, Five Star Urgent Care recommends visiting the nearest Five Star facility to determine the proper medical treatment.