Bite: react without a hitch

Even the most adorable dogs and cats can sometimes turn against you. Our advice to cope.1. The scenario

It's not always easy to predict the reactions of animals, even those of our most familiar companions. Your dog, frightened by a noise, "crunches" you to prevent him from running across the street. Or your cat, usually peaceful, finds himself in a fight with the neighbor and crashes his fangs in your hand when you try to extract it from there. "In the vast majority of cases, it is our animals or those of our close entourage who hurt us", says Dr. Philippe Poujol, doctor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

2. The good reflex

The mouth of our hairballs contains at least three types of bacteria. A bite can also insert into the wound micro-organisms present on our skin. To get rid of it, it is best to thoroughly wash the wound for about 15 minutes under water, with soap. "Even the rabies virus is sensitive to it!", recalls Dr. Poujol. Then, it is necessary to verify that one is up to date of its vaccinations (especially tetanus).

3. When to consult?

Serious bites are a minority of cases. However, if the fangs have touched the hands, feet, face - areas where the skin is thinner - or if the injury is close to a joint, you should consult. If the wound is deep, infected, or contains foreign bodies that can not be removed, a visit to the doctor is also required. People who are immunocompromised or have diabetes should be more alert to an increased risk of infection. In the same way, as a precaution, it is better to make an appointment if the animal is unknown to us (we do not know if it has been vaccinated against rabies) or if our vaccination is not up to date.

4. What to put on it?

Before applying a sterile dressing, apply an iodized antiseptic (betadine® type), an antibacterial that limits the risk of superinfection. If the pain is severe, take paracetamol.

5. Alarm signals

Watch for 24 hours to 48 hours because it is during this time that a wound is infected most often. The fangs of the cat (even if they represent only one bite out of four) penetrate more deeply and more quickly, and can thus touch muscles, tendons and articulations. Consult promptly if you notice swelling around the bite (edema), a large redness or purulent discharge. Fever is also a sign of infection.

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