Should you call a doctor after an animal bite?

If you or a loved one has been bitten by an animal — like the neighbor’s dog — there is a lot of first aid you can do to help. This includes washing the wound, putting pressure on it, applying local anti-bacterial creams and wrapping it. For minor issues, this may be enough, but when should you call a doctor?

One key thing to watch out for is bleeding that won’t stop, even when the wound is clean and consistent pressure has been applied. Even if you think you’ll be all right, if 10 minutes go by and it’s still actively bleeding, it’s not just time to call a doctor — it’s time to call 911.

It’s also wise to call a doctor when bitten by a cat. You may have to get a rabies shot. Rabies can be very serious if not treated right away.

Large bites also need a doctor’s care, as you could need stitches to get them to heal properly. Additionally, the location of the bite is important. To make sure you heal properly and don’t have lasting issues or even a disability, it’s good to seek medical help when bitten on the foot or the hand.

Injuries that you can’t see can be the most dangerous. If you think internal injuries could have been caused by the bite, get medical help. Small children are especially at risk for this. If the bite is to a child’s head, you always want to call the doctor.

Naturally, you want to keep an eye on a bite as it heals, even if you did first aid and it seemed to help. If it starts to get infected, you can still go to the doctor, even days or weeks later.

Some people don’t want to call the doctor because they don’t want to cover the cost of a visit and treatment. While this is understandable, it’s important to know that you might be able to get compensation if you were bitten by someone else pet and you believe that person is liable for the injuries.

Source: WebMD, “Wound Care: Your Essential First Aid Care Guide,” accessed Nov. 18, 2016




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