Animal Bites and Scratches


Any type of animal bite and scratch can potentially lead to unpleasant or even serious complications. Any animal scratch or bite, even a small one, can carry disease, no matter if it is the family pet or a neighborhood pet or unknown or wild animal. Some bites can become infected by bacteria transmitted from the animal's mouth, this is especially true with cat bites. A serious bacterial infection known as Cat Scratch Disease can sometimes be transmitted by a cat scratch (most often from kittens), and may be present even if the scratch doesn't look infected. Certain wild animals such as bats, raccoons, and foxes can carry and transmit rabies.

Any child that is bitten, and whose tetanus shots are not up to date, will need a shot (post-exposure tetanus prophylaxis) to prevent tetanus.

Treatment For an Animal Bite or Scratch

  • If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure to the area with a clean gauze or cloth until it stops
  • If the wound is not bleeding, clean the wound with soap and water and hold it under running water until clean
  • Gently pat the wound dry, apply antibiotic ointment, then cover with clean gauze
  • If the bite or scratch broke or punctured the skin, you should call your doctor
  • Any bite or scratch to a child should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible
  • Any bite to the face, hand, or foot are particularly prone to infection and need medical attention
  • If bitten or scratched by an stray or wild animal, it is essential to note the location of the animal so it can be captured, confined, and observed for rabies
  • DO NOT try to capture ta wild or unknown animal yourself, contact the local animal control office

Seek immediate medical care if:

  • The wound doesn't stop bleeding after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • The wound is deep or large
  • The wound is to the face or neck, hand or foot, or is near a joint
  • The wound becomes red, hot to the touch, swollen, or severely or increasingly painful
  • The animal was wild, unknown to you, or behaving strangely

We Can Help!

Medfast Urgent Care Centers offer fast, professional medical treatment for animal bites and scratches. Our average wait time to see patients is less than an hour, compared to Hospital Emergency Rooms, which can sometimes take longer than three to four hours and are much more expensive. We are professionally staffed with highly-skilled, licensed doctors and nurses, and fully equipped to handle testing and treatment for animal bites and scratches.