How to Manage Animal Bites in an Emergency

How to Manage Animal Bites in an Emergency

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Children are the most likely to be the victims of a dog bite. Do you know what it takes to care for them in that situation? If not, I’d be more than happy to share with you some vital information. Here’s more on how to manage animal bites during an emergency situation. In case you missed this post, Natural Remedies That Really Work

Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every single year, and only about 885,000 go on to seek medical help. What’s alarming is that children are more often the victims of a dog bite than adults are. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to prepare for an animal bite because they happen so unexpectedly. The key is to stay vigilant when outside if you suspect neighborhood dogs may be loose.

As a parent, do you know what it takes to care for them in that situation? Or would you know what to do if your son or daughter gets bitten by a snake? If not, I’ll be sharing with you some critical information. Here’s more on how to manage animal bites during an emergency situation. Remember, I’m not a doctor, nurse, or anyone in the medical field. Please contact your doctor or an emergency room for proper treatment as soon as possible. I highly recommend buying this Medical Handbook if you do not have it now.

How to Manage Animal Bites in an Emergency

How to Manage Animal Bites in an Emergency

Managing a Minor Animal Bite

How to Manage Animal Bites in an Emergency

If you’re dealing with a minor bite or claw wound that’s only slightly punctured the skin, you will need to do the following:

  • Use soap and water to rinse the wound.
  • Apply an ointment or some type of antibiotic cream over the wound and then cover it with clean bandages. 

When to Seek Medical Assistance

If there is a lot of bleeding, or the skin is badly torn where the bite occurred, the first thing that you need to do is apply pressure to the wound. But as soon as you can, find bandages or a clean cloth that you can set in place to help stop the bleeding. You will probably still need medical assistance as soon as possible. These are other things to watch for that will determine whether you need to get medical help in a timely manner:


  • You’re noticing deep puncture wounds but you aren’t sure how severe they are. 
  • If you start to notice pain, redness, swelling or oozing, these are some of the signs that you probably have an infection.
  • If it’s been over 10 years since you’ve had a tetanus shot, when the wound is dirty or deep, you may want to get a booster. Others suggest the booster if it’s been over 5 years since your last shot.
  • If you get bitten by a dog or a cat, try to find out whether the animal is up to date on its rabies shots, if possible. If this is something that you can’t determine, it’s best to go in to get rabies shots/treatment just to be safe. 
  • Keep in mind that dogs are responsible for 95% of rabies transmissions that are passed on to people, but that number is significantly less here in the United States because most dogs have been domesticated and aren’t running wild. But like I said, if you’re not sure, don’t take the risk of not being treated by professionals.   
  • Humans can become infected with rabies when they have been bitten by a bat. Yet bats don’t always leave obvious bite marks, so if you happen to wake up one morning to find one in your room, or your children’s room, it’s a good idea to go in and get tested, just in case.
  • Very few people actually survive rabies, so it is critical to get tested, and if found positive, get the series of shots that prevent the rabies infection to take hold.   There are two shot treatments, the first one being a fast-acting shot given close to the area where the bite took place. The second is a series of four rabies vaccinations given in your arm over a 14 day period.
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Managing Rodent Bites

Most rodent bites that take place in the United States every year are caused by animals that have been taken in as pets. It’s estimated that in about 10% of those cases, the bite will become infected and lead to what is called rat-bite fever, which has an incubation period of less than 7 days. 

Early Symptoms

Early symptoms may include headaches, fever, or pharyngitis. If left untreated, symptoms could then develop into a maculopapular rash and polyarthritis. In the rarest of cases, patients may even get meningitis. Taking penicillin or ceftriaxone should help to alleviate rat-bite fever. But failing to treat it can lead to real health problems. For more serious infections or bites caused by rodents, you may be required by your doctor to take a number of antibiotics, including parenteral and oral antibiotics for a longer period of time.    

Know Which Rodents Carry Rabies

Rabies is hardly ever found in animals such as hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, or even pet rats. The same goes for chipmunks and squirrels. The most common animals that you need to watch out for when it comes to rabies are bats, racoons, coyotes, foxes, and skunks. There have even been reports of beavers and woodchucks that have had rabies too.  If you or a family member encounter these animals in the wild it is best to stay clear and not try to capture, feed, or pet them.

Managing a Snake Bite

How to Manage Animal Bites in an Emergency

Venomous snakes are found living throughout our country. Venomous snakes fall into two main types, pit vipers that include rattlesnakes (image above), copperheads, and cottonmouth/water moccasins. The second type is coral snakes. Most of these snake bite incidents tend to be reported in the southwest, with most fatalities being caused by rattlesnakes. 

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A snake bite can leave a single or double puncture wound(s). The person that experienced the bite in that moment needs to:

  • Do their best to remain calm, including the people that are around them.
  • Evaluated their symptoms to try and determine if the snake was venomous. Symptoms could include: bloody wound discharge, excessive bleeding and difficulty with clotting of blood, marks from the fangs, swelling at the site of the bite, severe pain at the bite location, bruising and red coloration, lymph nodes become enlarged, diarrhea, burning sensation, convulsions, faint, become dizzy, feel weak, vision becomes blurred, sweat excessively, become very thirsty, lose muscle coordination, may feel nausea and start to vomit, numbness and tingling feelings, shock, breathing challenges, and more.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and clean water.
  • Make sure that the affected area kept still and remains LOWER than the heart.
  • Cover the area using a clean, cool compress or a dressing that is moist to help ease any swelling and related discomfort.
  • Try to monitor breathing frequency and increased heart rate.
  • Try to help identify what the snake looked like based on color, size, etc.
  • Don’t ever apply a tourniquet or try to suck out the venom.
  • Due to usual swelling, remove all rings, watches, and tight-fitting clothing.
  • Antivenin may then be administered to those who have a moderate to severe venomous bite, which has decreased the mortality rate for snake bites in people significantly.      

Final Word

Knowing how to manage an animal bite correctly is very important, especially if you’re in a situation where you can’t get to a doctor. It could be the difference between life and death. You should never ignore the warning signs if you’re experiencing unusual symptoms a few days after the bite takes place. Have you ever had a minor or major bite from an animal in the past that you’d be willing to share? What steps did you have to take to keep yourself healthy? May God Bless this world, Linda.

Copyright Images: Dogs Deposit photos_53996595_s-2019, Dog Bite Deposit photos_62457375_s-2019, Rattle Snake with Boots Deposit photos_11300535_s-2019,

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  1. If it’s a mammal and you have to kill it to remove the danger try and kill it with the head intact for rabies examination. In other words avoid head shots.
    If it’s a snake behead it to remove the danger but photograph it for identification for proper treatment. A snake body can still move even after hours from nerves. We bury the heads so the don’t get stepped on or a dog grabs it.
    Possums have the nastiest mouths I’ve encountered. They eat a lot of roadkill decomposing stuff. Lots of bacteria.

  2. Where I live in Florida, there are so many animals, it always scares me! I tell my kids not to approach an animal unless they ask the owner. Good advice!

    1. Hi Jess, my grandkids were walking their dog on a leash and encountered a dog owner “running” with her dog, unleashed. The runner’s dog attacked my grandkid’s dog. The runner said it was a friendly dog. Well, they should have called the police because next time it could be a child it attacks next time. My granddaughters were hysterical as you can imagine. The dog had several lacerations. I wish they had taken it to the vet to report the dog off-leash and the attack. If you don’t report, it can happen again. Linda

  3. I don’t know if I was bitten or not, but when I was little, under 5, I had to have rabies shots due to a rabid dog. My brother and sister also had to have them. Back then, you got them in your stomach every day for 28 days. Where the shot was given, it would be red, raised a quarter of and inch and was the size of a silver dollar. This was from my mother. I know they had to hold me down to give me the shots. It’s easier these days. None of this is fun. Needless to say, to this day I have a fear of big dogs. Small ones don’t bother me. And I had nightmares about big dogs biting me for years.

    1. Deborah- was that in the 1970’s? My friend had them in her stomach too & was severely traumatized from the shots- more than from the dog bite!

  4. Many years ago I was attacked by a St. Bernard . They family had it in a yard behind a 3 ft. fence. I wasn’t told it could jump up when someone came into the yard. I had a large container in my hands when I wen to see the owner because I heard her in the back. the dog came over the fence at me and attacked me. He took out 1/3 of my top and bottom lips. If I had not bee facing away at the time, he would’ve taken my nose. As it was, I had a great plastic surgeon at the hospital that treated me so I have very little scaring. I had about 300 stitches to repair all the layers. Needless to say, the dog was put down after the rabies test was negative. The family lived around the block from the school and had no “Beware of dog” sign up. I had our 2 sons in the car and the youngest to this day is not a dog lover. The family was not happy and felt I was to blame, which wasn’t the case. You never know what can happen will animals, tame or wild.

    1. Hi Cheryl, thank you for sharing your story. Animals are animals, you are so right. I have 2 Shih Tzus, and I never let any child put their face close to my dog’s face. They are animals, it’s a fact. I love my dogs, but they are dogs/animals. I can’t imagine having this happen to you, let alone to have your 2 sons in your car watching it. Thank goodness you had a great plastic surgeon. The dog needed to be put down. Why on earth would they only have a 3-foot fence for that large of a dog? If it was a corner lot, that may have been the city restrictions. But it’s not tall enough for a dog that large! I’m so glad you’re okay but so sorry to hear this happened to you. Linda

  5. Wow that is so scary! People don’t put their dogs on leashes here. I don’t get it. That’s a lot of trust you have in your pet lol

    1. Hi Jess, it’s the law in Utah to have your dog on a leash. BUT, each city or municipality can have its own laws. I see dogs running around in my neighborhood without a leash. Plus, one neighbor opens the door and leaves it open to let his/her dog do its business anywhere down the street. I’m actually afraid of a few dogs when Mark and I walk our dogs. They charge at us. It’s ridiculous. Stay safe, Linda

  6. This was in NV and others know about the dog, but never reported it. It wasn’t the city’s concern as far as they knew. The state only gave me a small amount because then they felt it was called ” the one bite rule” So the dog could take one bite out or a person and not be put down. In my case, the doctors, and my husband that was the building inspector at the time, made sure it was put down. I only looked at my face once before I went to the hospital because I has towels over it to stop the bleeding. It took a long time to heal, but most couldn’t tell anything had ever happened. The plastic surgeon that just happened to be on, taught plastic surgery all over the US at conferences. I was blessed for sure!!!

    1. Hi Cheryl, you were really blessed to have the BEST plastic surgeon on call! When I was a young mother I was walking my daughter over to a friend’s house and a little dog came out and bit my daughter’s leg. It did not “break” the skin but it had a bite mark. It took years for my daughter to like dogs. The lady who owned the dog felt really bad. It should have been on a leash, but that happened about 40 years ago. I don’t tolerate dogs off-leash, I’m somewhat fearful of big dogs (I can’t imagine a St. Bernard) if they are not on a leash. People think their dog is fine, well they are animals like we both talked about. That is so wrong that others knew about the dog and did not report it. I have no tolerance for that. I better get off my soapbox! LOL! Linda

      1. Linda, I’m still scared of big dogs. Ours are all small ones. It’s been over 60 years, (I’m not sure how old I was when the dog was around) and big dogs terrify me. I used to have nightmares about dogs biting my arm and not letting go. I haven’t had one in the last 10 years or so.

        1. Hi Deborah, me too! I have two little Shih Tzus, and I’m afraid to take them for a walk because a few people just let their dogs run free. It’s the big dogs that scare me. My little dog, Bailey would “think” she could take on the big dogs, nope nada. She would be chewed up fighting. And I would be screaming, Yes, screaming at the dog(s) and the owners, if I locate them. I have a whistle but I’m still scared when I walk them. Linda

          1. Linda, our neighbors behind us let their dogs run loose, too. One is a pit bull and has chased us when we rode by on our adult trikes. I put my feet on the handlebars. She says he’s a big baby. LOL Right! Their little weiner dog dug under our fence and I couldn’t get close to him either. I don’t know how many others they have. I put bricks in the hole under the privacy fence to keep the dogs out. We are fenced in to keep our dogs in and others out. We’ve had a Bobcat run across the yard from behind me while I was mowing. Needless to say, I put the mower up and came back in the house. We also had a panther and baby under our back deck. Lots of wild critters here, including wild pigs.

          2. Hi Deborah, OH, MY GOSH! No dog is a big baby, they are all animals, even my little Shih Tzus. I’m the one in the neighborhood that knocks on a door if their pet is barking or running loose. I ONLY do that once. The second time I call animal control. Of course, they are not open on the weekends, but I will leave a message. It’s so rude. It would drive me crazy if I was riding a trike (sounds awesome) and a dog came at me. It’s rude. Oh the bobcat story, wow! BUT, the panther and the baby under your deck tops all! SCARY!! I see coyotes on the hill above me, never in my yard. We do have to be careful because some big birds try to pick up small dogs in the neighborhood. We live in the desert, it’s our life. LOL! Linda

  7. Linda, great tips on animal bites. One of my younger brothers was bitten more than twice–always from “good” dogs who’d never bit anyone before–and he wasn’t teasing them. There are simply some people dogs don’t like and he was one of them. Ironic that he’s a dog breeder now, huh.

    I’ve been bitten by many animals from spiders to horses, but I’ve never been bitten by a dog or a cat–and I’ve broken up dog fights.

    It’s snake season and where I live the Mojave Greens are out. A really good tip for dog owners it to get your dogs vaccinated against rattler bites. Any Vet can do it.

    1. Hi Ray, wow, “good” dogs, it’s so good to bring attention to dog bites, they happen. Okay, you were bit by a horse, YIKES! Ray, oh my gosh, I can’t imagine that one!! Snakes are here as well, great reminder on that one! Good to hear your brother is a dog breeder, glad he likes dogs!! Stay safe, Linda

  8. I have a family of racoons that dine here at my house regularly. I’m always afraid they’ll attack my golden retriever but so far, they seem pretty complacent. They just sorta watch me until I get too close. Still, I’ve heard other racoons chatter/hiss and generally be pretty scary so I don’t take my little racoon family for granted. I give them wide berth! There’s nothing I can do about them as they’re everywhere, I’m told. Cities have them, too. Thankfully, my Golden is vaccinated but hopefully she never gets attacked.

    I used to love to roam the hills, especially on my horse. Not so much anymore. As I’ve gotten older, snakes scare the heck outta me! The slithering kind, not just the two-legged kind. I loved your article, Linda. It was very informative. The one comment I would make along with “don’t suck out the venom” is to not even slit the area between the puncture wounds. Always been told that was a no-no. Your entire article was spot-on tho! I think it’s going to get more applicable as time goes on and society degrades as it is now.

    1. Hi Robbie, great tip on the snake bite, thank you. We have raccoons in my area and they are mean, so be careful. They have chewed through sheds and leave feces everywhere. They wreak havoc in back yards or front yards. We haven’t heard about any on my street, thank goodness. Stay safe, Linda

  9. Hey Linda, red collars are a deterrent for birds getting small animals. We have some birds like that here, to. We can watch our dogs on cameras while they’re outside. They don’t go out after dark though. Our front and back yard are fenced separate. The dogs only go in the front (smaller) yard. They love it when the mail lady comes or UPS or FedEx. They bark at them. Our previous mail lady would give them a treat. Yes, they are spoiled. Fen though they are animals, they are our fur babies.

    Since we live in the country, we don’t have animal control. ☹️

    1. Hi Deborah, oh my gosh! You don’t have animal control, I have the giggles now!! Not because you don’t it but I never thought about those lucky enough to live in the country do not have it! You rock, Linda. Thanks for the tip on the red collars!

      1. Red means danger. That is what I’ve been told anyway. Our dogs have a red, blue and pink collar. Each has their own color. The have matching leaches too. LOL Us girls have to color coordinate.

        1. Hi Deborah, oh my gosh, we are so much alike! I have to have matching leashes, too! Mark just grabs any leash….Oh well. Yes, we love to coordinate! Linda

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