For those of us who keep our dogs in fenced-in yards, set up supervised play dates, and take our pooches on leashed walks, the thought of him suffering from a bite wound from a dog or other animal may seem unlikely.
However, often dogs are bitten by dogs they know, be it another family pet or known playmate.
Cats, both indoor and outdoor living, can experience bite wounds too. Be it another pet family member, a stray cat or dog from the neighborhood passing through your property, or another unfriendly creature - a cat being wounded from a bite can happen.
In fact, one of the most common reasons for emergency veterinarian visits is because of bite wounds. That is why it may be a good idea to always have a pet first aid kit handy.
Biting is one of a number of aggressive behaviors dogs use to communicate:
- Defend territory
- Overly enthusiastic play (seen usually in puppies)
Aggressive behaviors such as growling, lunging, snarling, muzzle punching, and biting are used in the dog world to resolve competitive issues over food, pack position, attention, and territory.
Aggression can also be a means of warding off a perceived threat. This can be the case when a dog feels he is protecting himself or his “people” from a strange dog or another animal.
All bite wounds should be considered infected in the sense that they are contaminated with bacteria.
Animals’ mouths contain a whole host of bacteria. Therefore any bite that punctures your pet’s skin can introduce infectious bacteria below the skin’s surface.
Once bacteria is below the surface it has the potential to spread throughout the tissue, causing infection to organs.
If your pet is bitten by another dog, cat, or wild animal, take the following steps:
- Keep him calm and warm by wrapping him in a blanket. Leave his nose and mouth exposed.
- If you see a bleeding wound, flush it with warm salt water. Apply a clean cloth and dressing.
- Continue to apply pressure to stop the bleeding while you transport him to the vet.
- Place your dog or cat in a box lined with warm blankets.
Medium/Large dogs or cats - Place your dog or cat on a sheet. This will be easier to lift.
- If your pet's chest has puncture wounds, cover the wounds with a clean, damp cloth. Then wrap it with a cling bandage or vet tape tightly enough to seal the wound.
- If your pet's abdomen is punctured and organs are visibly protruding, do not let your dog lick them.
- Wrap abdomen in a damp sheet and take your pet to the vet immediately.
Do not handle your injured pet any more than needed as this may cause pain. Even if there are no visible signs of damage, he may have an internal injury.
It can be difficult to determine the extent of your pet’s injuries, particularly if they are in an area of the body covered by fur. Small puncture wounds can be easy to miss and can close up quickly.
If your pet has been bitten it is better to be on the safe side and make an appointment with your vet.
Your vet will certainly want to thoroughly wash out any wounds. He or she will then determine what type of treatment is needed and will likely prescribe an antibiotic to ensure that no infection develops.
You can expect to be sent home with aftercare instructions which will most likely include:
- Continuing all oral antibiotics until they are gone
- Cleaning your pet’s wound and/or changing the bandage
- Monitoring your pet for signs of infection
- Restricting his activity until the wound heals
You can reduce the odds of your pet being bitten by another animal by walking him on a leash, supervising him outside, and making sure not to approach loose dogs and cats and any other animals you do not know.
Accidents and illness happen and are unexpected, so that’s where pet insurance comes in.
Looking for more ways to keep your pets happy and healthy? Consider investing in a pet insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1 We offer dog insurance and cat insurance policies for your furry family members. Get your free quote today.