Pet first aid: bite wounds

2 June 2020
Allan Grisdale
cat teeth

Bite wounds often get infected because mouths are full of bacteria. They tend to be more serious than they look because damage can be hidden below the skin.

Always have your pet checked by your vet if they have been bitten or attacked. 

Snakebites are especially dangerous and should be treated ASAP.

What to do if your pet has been bitten

Step one: Assess your pet

  • Do they seem otherwise OK?
  • Do they have any other injuries?
  • Are they in shock?
  • If you are worried about your pet, cover their wounds, keep them warm and take them straight to the vet.

Step two: Assess the bite wound

  • Small and not bleeding – move to step three.
  • Bleeding heavily – apply pressure with a dry, clean dressing and go straight to the vet.
  • Areas of skin missing – cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing and go straight to the vet. If your pet shows pain when you cover the wound, or you don’t have a dressing available, don’t try to cover the area as you may cause more damage.
  • Snakebite – put an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) on the bite, and take your pet straight to the nearest vets.

Step three: Flush the wound

  • If your pet has a small bite wound that isn’t bleeding heavily, flush it with lukewarm, salty water (see below) to remove as much bacteria as possible. Rinse for as long as your pet will tolerate.

Make saltwater by adding 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 pint of cooled (previously boiled) water.

Step four: Book an appointment with your vet

  • Bite wounds should always be checked by a vet because they are often more serious than they look, and are likely to get infected.

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