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Cat and Dog Bites

Bite wounds account for approximately 1% of all emergency department visits: 10% of victims require suturing and 1-2% require hospitalization for cat bites or dog bites.


Dog bites account for 80-90% of animal bites. Infection develops in15-20% of dog bite wounds.

Cat bites account for 15% of animal bites. Cat bites usually present as puncture wounds, of which 30-40% become

Laboratory and radiologic evaluation

Radiographs should be taken if there is considerable edema and tenderness around the wound or if bony penetration or foreign bodies are suspected.

Wounds seen within 8 to 24 hours after injury, that have no signs of infection, do not require culture. If infection is present, aerobic and anaerobic cultures should be obtained.

Treatment of dog and cat bites

Wound care

The wound should be cleansed with 1% povidone iodine solution (Betadine), and irrigated with normal saline with a 20- to 50-mL syringe with an Angiocath. Devitalized, crushed tissue should be 

Antimicrobial therapy

Prophylactic antibiotics are recommended for wounds that have a high risk of infection.

High-risk bite wounds requiring prophylactic antibiotics

Full-thickness puncture wounds, severe crush injury and/or edema, wounds requiring debridement

Cat bite wounds

Bite wounds to the hand, foot or face; bone, joint, tendon or ligament, or wound adjacent to a 

Treatment of infected wounds. Infected bite wounds are treated with

Rabies immunoprophylaxis

The incidence of rabies in persons who have been bitten by a dog is very low because most dogs have been vaccinated. An untreated person has a less than 20% chance of contracting rabies from the bite of

Wild animals (raccoons, skunks, bats) are the most common source of rabies. Rabies is transmitted when the saliva of an infected animal comes into contact with the broken skin or mucosa of 

Tetanus Immunization. Animal bites should be regarded as tetanus prone, although tetanus infection resulting from cat and dog bites is