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Bites and Scratches


Animal bites and scratches, even minor ones, can sometimes lead to complications. Whether the animal is a family pet (in kids, most animal bites are from dogs) or a creature from the wild, scratches and bites can carry disease.

Some bites, especially from cats, can get infected by bacteria from the animal's mouth. And cat scratch disease, a bacterial infection, can develop from a cat scratch (usually from a kitten) even if the scratch site doesn't look infected. Some animals — such as bats, raccoons, and foxes — can spread rabies.

Kids whose tetanus shots are not up to date will need a shot (post-exposure tetanus prophylaxis) after an animal bite to prevent tetanus infection.

Animal Bites Instruction Sheet

What to Do:

Teach your children to stay away from strange animals, and not to tease or provoke any animals, even family pets. Animals should not be disturbed while they are eating or sleeping.

If you own a pet, make sure it's properly immunized and licensed.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2018


Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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