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Pediatric animal bites

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Updated: 1/14/2003 11:29 am
Most animal bites to children are not from unknown or wild animals but, rather, animals the child knows, sometimes including the family pet. If your child's been bitten by any animal-- wild or domestic-- clean the wound at once with mild soap and water. If it's severe, apply firm, continuous pressure to the area until the blood flow stops. Contact a doctor whenever a bite has broken the skin, no matter how minor it appears. The doctor will need to check whether the child will need a tetanus shot or get treatment against rabies, although this is rare. The risk depends on the health of the animal, whether or not it's been immunized, and the circumstances surrounding the bite. If possible, the animal should be captured and not destroyed. It will be quarantined and observed to see whether it becomes ill. To help prevent bites from pets, consider the breed when selecting a pet. Some are more likely to bite than others. Teach children how to treat a pet properly, including not poking or pulling its tail and to stand still and stay calm if approached by a strange dog. Don't leave infants or small children unattended with a pet, and don't let your child approach a strange dog. When walking a pet in a populated area, always be sure to use a leash, and don't allow the pet to approach a child it doesn't know. Many municipalities have ordinances that require leashes.

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