Urgent Care for Animal Bites and Scratches
Animal bites and scratches are extremely common, although often overlooked in terms of potential severity. Even a minor bite or scratch from an animal of any kind can become infected with bacteria that may be harmful, occasionally leading to serious complications. While scratches and bites may not look “angry” or infected, this is not to say that they don’t come along with plenty of risks—including the risk of tetanus.
Fortunately, most animal bites and scratches clear up once addressed by a treating provider.
What Causes Animal Bites and Scratches?
As one might expect, animal bites and scratches can occur at any time and are highly dependent upon circumstance. Dog bites, for example, are common and account for 98% of rabies cases reported worldwide. Cat scratches and bites are equally common, and despite what many may think, they’re actually more likely to result in infection than dog bites.
Finally, scratches and bites from wild animals such as raccoons, coyotes, skunks, foxes and bats—all of which are cause for concern—occur regularly and should always be addressed by a medical professional no matter how mild or severe they may be.
What are the Symptoms of Animal Bites and Scratches?
Symptoms of animal bites and scratches can vary quite dramatically depending upon the severity of the incident. These may include the following:
- Pain at Site of Injury
- Shallow or Deep Wound
Be sure to seek medical attention in the case of any of the following symptoms:
- General Malaise
- Decreased Appetite
- Swollen Glands
Diagnosing and Treating Animal Bites and Scratches
The first step in diagnosing an animal bite or scratch is for you and your treating provider to have a discussion about exactly how the injury happened. From there, an approach to treatment will be discussed. The wound will most commonly be cleaned and dressed to avoid any potential for infection (wounds missing skin or those that are particularly deep may require special dressings). Stitches may also be employed if necessary. Antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection.
In the case that the affected person is not up to date on their tetanus shot, a vaccine may be administered as a prophylactic.
Children who experience symptoms after suffering an animal bite or scratch should be seen by a treating provider as soon as possible after the injury. For children that have not been vaccinated, a tetanus shot may be provided.
Dealing with a Bite or Scratch? Visit a ConvenientMD Location in NH, ME or MA Today!
At ConvenientMD, we encounter animal bites and scratches numerous times each and every day. While many can be treated quickly and efficiently, complications do arise and can only be avoided when injuries are addressed as soon as possible. If you or a family member has been bitten or scratched, we’re here to help.
Ready to get treated? Just stop into any of our convenient urgent care locations in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts—you’ll never need to make an appointment ahead of time.