Bites and Scratches

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 those from cats, can become infected by bacteria from the animal's mouth. And cat scratch disease, a bacterial infection, can be transmitted by a cat scratch (usually from a kitten) even if the site of the scratch doesn't look infected. Certain animals — such as bats, raccoons, and foxes — can transmit 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.

What to Do:

Teach your children to stay away from strange animals, and not to tease or provoke any animals, even known 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: February 2014





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

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





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Related Resources
OrganizationHumane Society of the United States (HSUS) HSUS is the world's largest animal protection organization and has been officially recognized by the United Nations to negotiate for animals.
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
OrganizationImmunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.
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