Animal bites and scratches that break the skin can sometimes cause infection. Some bites need stitches while others heal on their own. Rarely, bites from wild animals can lead to rabies, a life-threatening infection. Bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes cause most rabies cases. What to Do Wash the bite area with soap and water. If the bite is bleeding, put pressure on it using sterile gauze or a clean cloth. If the bleeding has stopped, put antibiotic ointment on the area. Cover the area with a bandage or sterile gauze. If your child has pain, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Get Medical Care If: The bite was from: a wild or stray animal a pet that isn't up-to-date on rabies shots an animal that is acting strangely The bite has broken the skin. The bite is on the face, head, neck, hand, foot, or near a joint. A bite or scratch becomes red, hot, swollen, or more painful. Your child is behind on shots or has not had a tetanus shot within 5 years. If your child needs treatment, have the following information on hand: the kind of animal that bit your child the date of the animal's last rabies vaccination, if known any recent unusual behavior by the animal the animal's location, if known if the animal was a stray or wild, or was captured by a local animal control service your child's immunization (shots) record a list of any medicines your child is allergic to Think Prevention! Many animal bites can be prevented. Always keep a close eye on young kids around animals, even pets. Teach kids not to tease pets, to handle them gently, and to stay away from wild or stray animals. Back to Articles Related Articles First Aid & Safety Center Boo-boos, bug bites, and broken bones - oh my! Here's your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about how to keep kids safe. Read More Infections That Pets Carry Kids can benefit from the companionship, affection, and relationships they share with pets. But it's important to know how to protect your family from infections carried by pets and other animals. Read More Dealing With Cuts Find out how to handle minor cuts at home - and when to get medical care for a more serious injury. Read More Rabies Rabies is a serious infection of the nervous system that is caused by a virus. Rabies is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal. Read More Bites and Scratches Animal bites and scratches, even minor ones, can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body, regardless of whether the animal is a family pet or a wild animal. Read More First Aid: Cuts Most cuts can be safely treated at home. But deeper cuts - or any wounds that won't stop bleeding - need emergency medical treatment. Read More Staying Safe Around Animals Do you love animals? Lots of kids do. Find out how to stay safe around them in this article for kids. Read More Cat Scratch Disease Cat scratch disease is an infection that causes swelling of the lymph nodes after a cat scratch or bite. Learn about signs and symptoms, prevention, treatment, and more. Read More Preventing Dog Bites Teaching kids a few basic dog manners will help them enjoy safe encounters with Fido. Read More Cuts, Scratches, and Scrapes Most small cuts, scrapes, or abrasions heal on their own. Here are tips for teens on how to treat cuts at home - and when to get medical help. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.