First aid for bite wounds

dog, rabbit and cat photo

What to do if your pet has a bite wound

1. Assess the bite

Are there large areas of skin missing? Can you see tendons, muscles or bones? If so, cover the area with a clean, dry dressing and go immediately to your nearest vets.

  • Bleeding heavily?
    Apply direct pressure with a dry, clean dressing or bandage and go straight to the vets.
  • Bitten by a snake?
    If you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a snake, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel (restricts blood flow and possible spread of infection) and take them immediately to the nearest vets.

2. Flush the wound

Flush out dirt and bacteria from your dog’s wound by rinsing it with salt water* or lukewarm running water for a few minutes. Skip this step if your dog’s wound is bleeding heavily or they are otherwise unwell.

* to make a salt water, add 1 teaspoon of salt to a pint of cooled, previously boiled water.

3. Keep your pet warm

If your pet is injured, they may start to go into shock and become cold. If necessary, wrap them in a blanket to keep them warm.

4. Take your pet to the vet

Bite wounds may look small, but there is often hidden damage below the skin. The mouth is full of bacteria so they are very likely to become infected.

Published: February 2018

PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery 

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst