First aid for bite wounds
- Always have your pet checked by your vet if they have been bitten or attacked.
- Bite wounds very often get infected because mouths are so full of bacteria. They also tend to be more serious than they look because of hidden damage below the skin.
- Snakebites are especially dangerous and should be treated ASAP.
What to do if your pet has been bitten
Step one: Assess your pet
- Do they seem otherwise OK? Do they have any other injuries? Are they in shock?
- If you are worried about your pet, cover their wounds, keep them warm and take them straight to your vets.
Step two: Assess the bite wound
- Small and not bleeding - move to step three.
- Bleeding heavily - apply pressure with a dry, clean dressing and go straight to your vets.
- Areas of skin missing - cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing and go straight to your vets. If your pet seems painful when you try to cover the wound or you don’t have a dressing available then don’t try to cover the area as you may cause more damage.
- Snakebite - put an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) on the bite, and take your pet straight to the nearest vets.
Step three: Flush the wound
- If your dog has a small bite wound that isn’t bleeding heavily, flush it with lukewarm, salty water* to remove as much bacteria as possible. Rinse for as long as your dog will tolerate.
- *Make salt water by adding 1 teaspoon of salt to a pint of cooled (previously boiled) water.
Step four: Book an appointment with your vet
Bite wounds should always be checked by a vet because they are often more serious than they look, and are likely to get infected.
Published: March 2020
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.