Logo: health

Bite Wounds

Bite Wounds

Bite wounds are common injuries, but can have serious consequences if left untreated. They have great potential for infection as bacteria are transported under the skin at the time of damage by a tooth. Cat bites frequently become infected and can easily abscess.

Many bites are crushing injuries, especially when caused by medium to large dogs. In addition to the external damage, crush type injuries can produce deep and often serious internal tissue damage.

In the event that your pet is bitten by another animal, we encourage you to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Risks and Symptoms of Bite Wound Infections

Bites can be hidden by skin folds or hair and may not be obvious until pain or infection is noted. Small, superficial wounds can hide serious deeper injuries to muscles, tendons, vessels, nerves, bones or organs. Severe bites can be life threatening. Common signs of infection include:

  • Visible skin wounds or redness
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Chewing or licking at the damaged area
  • DischargeLimpingRecent history of aggression between pets
  • Any other skin abnormalities or signs of pain

Diagnosis and Treatment of Bite Wounds

Diagnosis is based on symptoms and examination findings. Treatment is based on extent and severity of the injuries.All wounds require cleaning and usually antibiotics. Significant injuries often require anesthesia and surgery to repair of damaged tissue, placement of surgical drains, and deep cleaning. Sutures (stitches) or surgical staples are frequently needed to repair damaged tissue. Good home wound care and monitoring are vital to a speedy recovery.

Pets frequently may try to lick or chew at healing wounds, sutures, or surgical drains, causing more damage. This can be prevented by the use of an Elizabethan (cone shaped) collar.

Post-Treatment and Prevention TIps

  • Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Be sure to follow all activity restriction instructions from your veterinarian.
  • Carefully follow any post surgical, bandage, or wound care instructions - these could mean the difference between a successful recovery and further problems.
  • Monitor your pet carefully and have him/her rechecked if you have any concerns.

Learn More

If your pet has suffered from a bite wound, it is important to have your pet rechecked as recommended by your veterinarian. For more articles like this one, please visit our emergency care section