Animal bites can often lead to infection and require medical care

Dog aggression is often a problem when a dog hasn’t been properly trained or socialized. As we discussed last week, dogs may act aggressively for a variety of reasons. When that aggression leads to an injury because of a bite, serious effects can occur.

In the United States, animal bites occur as many as three million times per year. Up to 90 percent of those bites are from dogs. Cats come in second with 5 percent, while other animals account for the remaining 5 percent. An interesting point to remember is that women are bitten more often by cats and men are bitten more often by dogs.

Even though the number of cat bites is dramatically lower than dog bites, cat bites are often more serious. In fact, cat bites require hospitalization around 6 percent of the time. Dog bites require hospitalization around 1 percent of the time. The reason for this is that cat teeth are sharp and pointed. When they go through the skin, the result is a deep puncture wound that is often sealed by a flap of skin. The flap of skin seals in the bacteria and stops drainage of the wound, which can lead to an infection.

Anyone who has been bitten by an animal should watch for signs of infection. These can include the area swelling, turning red and feeling warm. In some cases, pus drainage, swollen lymph nodes near the area, fever, red streaks moving from the bite wound and loss of mobility in the area are possible. If any of those signs are noticed, immediate medical care is necessary.

The medical expense for treating animal bites is considerable. Blood tests, x-rays, wound cleaning and care, and treatment for infection are all possible expenses. With that in mind, some people who are bitten by an animal might choose to seek compensation for their injuries.

Source: The Hand Center of Western Massachusetts, “Bite Wounds of the Hand,” accessed June 14, 2015