First-Aid 101: Animal Scratches and Bites

First-Aid 101: Animal Scratches and Bites

BAn animal bite or scratch is certainly a cause for alarm. However, after the initial excitement, most bites or cuts from animals can be dealt with simply.

It is important to prepare for possible animal bites or scratches by having a fully-stocked homemade first-aid kit.

First-Aid Kit Must-Haves for Animal Scratches and Bites

Animal bites or cuts carry a real threat of infection. Dealing with them quickly is essential if you want to avoid infection and further ailment aside from the initial pain of injury. You can never be too certain if the animal that injured you carries any serious diseases.

Fill your homemade first-aid kit with the following items to treat animal bites and wounds. You can find all of these items online, at general superstores and local pharmacies.

Antibiotic cream or ointment – Many antibiotic ointments contain bacitracin, neomycin and/or polymyxin B. These can effectively kill bacteria on the skin and in wounds. Antibiotic creams are essential in dealing with open wounds, including animal bites or cuts.

Cold compress – A cold compress can help to reduce swelling of the wounded area and help decrease the associated pain to a degree.

Pain relief pills – Over-the-counter pain relief medications can be taken with water to reduce fever and pain associated with an animal bite or cut.

Bandages – Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with bandages to keep foreign objects from getting in the wound and infecting it.

Gauze – Use gauze if none of the bandages you have on hand are big enough to cover the wound when you apply them.

Medical scissors – You can use medical scissors to cut gauze if the animal-induced wound is too large to be covered by a conventional or large bandage.

Sting/bite pump – This sort of pump can be purchased as part of a bite/sting first-aid kit. It is intended to pump blood out and away from the wound in an effort to remove as much bacteria as possible.

Natural Supplements That Can Help Animal Scratches and Bites

Use the items listed below to supplement materials in your first-aid kit and methods advised by your doctor. Most of the following items can be found in your kitchen or medicine cabinet. Otherwise, they you can find them at natural wellness stores or supplement sections in supermarkets.

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Seek medical help for animal bites and scratches first and only use these natural remedies to fight infection.

Vitamin C – Taking vitamin C from foods can help boost the immune system and fight infection. Foods high in vitamin C include strawberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, papaya, kale and cauliflower. Likewise, you can take vitamin C in the form of a pill supplement, powder or liquid solution.

Vitamin B – Vitamin B contributes to the production of antibodies, which can fight infectious bacteria in the saliva and under the nails of different animals. Vitamin B can be found in vegetables, fish, pork, eggs, brown rice and oatmeal. You can also opt for a supplement in any of its available forms.

Echinacea tincture – An echinacea tincture can be used for up to five days to help heal animal bites or cuts. Take it orally to let the herbal concoction assist in the healing.

Goldenseal tea – Drinking goldenseal will increase your intake of antibiotics. You can even use a goldenseal teabag that has been steeped in hot water and place it directly on the wound. However, women who are pregnant and people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes should not use it, as the tea may pose potential health risks for individuals with these conditions

How to Take Care of Animal Scratches and Bites

Because you never know the health or conditions of the animal that cuts or scratches you, even if it is your own pet, you want to have a medical professional address your wounds. Different animals are prone to carry more threatening diseases, bacteria or infection than others. Getting a bite or cut from any animal can be cause for alarm and painful. If you cannot make it immediately to a licensed physician, you need to address the injury yourself.

Take the following steps when dealing with an animal cut or bite:

  1. Apply gentle pressure to the wound to allow blood to flow from the open flesh areas. The blood flow will help to push bacteria out of the wound. Alternatively, you can use a sting/bite pump to suck bacteria-infected blood away from the interior flesh.
  2. Use soap and water to wash the animal cut or bite. A mild, nonabrasive soap is best for this step in the process.
  3. Use a clean cloth to apply to the wound to slow down any bleeding. You may need more than one clean cloth to soak up and slow down blood flow.
  4. Apply antibiotic cream over the wound.
  5. Depending on the size of the animal cut or bite, use a bandage or gauze to wrap or cover the wound.
  6. Have a doctor examine and treat the wound. He or she may give you medications or further instructions for taking care of the wound and may schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor progress.
  7. Change the bandage and dressings as needed or as directed by your doctor. Bandages will usually need to be changed when they become soiled or visibly worn.
  8. Monitor the wound for signs of infection such as fever, swelling or liquid oozing from the source.

When to Go to the Hospital for Animal Scratches and Bites

A bite, scratch or cut from an animal may not pose a major threat, aside from the pain caused by the injury. Most times, these injuries can be addressed and taken care of at home. However, there are times when you might want to seek a doctor’s opinion, just to rule out the possibility of infection and/or other associated ailments.

See your doctor for an animal cut or bite if:

  • You are worried about possibly contracting rabies. If you can, ascertain whether the animal (e.g. a domesticated dog or cat) has updated rabies shots. In the case of a wild animal, seek a doctor’s opinion. Be especially wary of bats, which are notorious for carrying rabies.
  • If you have not received a tetanus shot within the last five years.
  • The cut or puncture is very deep and you are not sure how bad the injury is overall. If the wound is especially bad, with the flesh torn in places, the doctor may elect to give you stitches.
  • The wound is exceptionally bloody.
  • The wound begins to excrete pus, becomes red, causes fever or swells the skin.

If you are injured with an animal bite or scratch, you would better off being transported to the hospital by a friend or relative. If the wound feels especially painful or is bleeding profusely, call for an ambulance. The emergency medical respondents will be able to initiate first-aid on the way to the hospital.

If you choose to take care of the wound on your own, follow up with a doctor regarding possible medications needed and dealing with possible rabies.

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