What To Do When Animals Attack

Animals Attack feature

Most people have, at some point in their lives, run afoul of an ornery dog or cat.  Most animal bites will be puncture wounds; these will be relatively small but have the potential to cause dangerous infections.

Although many preparers are wary of vaccines, it may be appropriate to make sure that everyone in your group has had a tetanus shot.

What To Do When Animals Attack

Most animal bites affect the hands (in adults) and the face, head, and neck (in children).

Domestic pets, such as cats, dogs, and small rodents, are the culprits in the vast majority of cases.

Dog bites are usually more superficial than cat bites, as their teeth are relatively dull compared to feline bites.  Despite this, their jaws are powerful and can inflict crush injuries to soft tissues.

Cats’ teeth are thin and sharp, and puncture wounds tend to be deeper.

Both can lead to infection if ignored, but the cat bites inject bacteria into deeper tissues and seem to become contaminated more often.

Animals Attack

Although healthy people can be made very ill by animal bites, you are most at risk for serious damage if you are elderly, diabetic, immunocompromised (transplant patients, AIDS victims, etc.), or have liver disease.

Besides the trauma associated with the actual bite, various animals carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.  Here are just a few diseases and the animals involved:

  • Rabies: Viral disease spread by raccoons, skunks, bats, opossums, and canines.
  • Pasteurellosis: Bacterial naturally present in the mouths of both dogs and cats.
  • Yersinia Pestis:  Bacterial disease associated with rats and fleas; otherwise known as the “Plague”.
  • Tuberculosis: Bacterial disease associated with deer, elk, and bison.
  • Brucella:  Bacterial disease associated with bison, deer, and other animals.
  • Hantavirus: Viral disease caused by mice.
  • Baylisascaris (raccoon roundworm): a parasitic disease associated with raccoons
  • Histoplasma: a fungal disease associated with bat excrement (guano).
  • Tularemia: is a bacterial disease associated with wildlife, especially rodents, rabbits, and hares.

Whenever a person has been bitten, the first and most important action is to clean the wound thoroughly after stopping any bleeding.

Benzalkonium chloride is the best antiseptic to use in treating animal bites because it has some effect against the Rabies virus.

Frequent irrigation (flushing out) with dilute antiseptic solutions like betadine or even sterilized water will be important to prevent infection.

Animals Attack

Be sure to watch for signs of infection such as redness, warmth, and swelling in the wound area.  Pain that increases with time is another warning sign.

General signs of infections, such as fever, are also red flags that further treatment is warranted.  Antibiotics may be appropriate in many cases.

If the bite is on the hand, any rings or bracelets should be taken off; if swelling occurs, they may be very difficult to remove afterward.

Animals Attack

Given the risks, it would be wise to consider preventive measures.   Stay away from stray or wild animals, and especially from animals protecting their young.  Wear long pants and high-top boots when walking in the wilderness, and carry a good personal first aid kit.

Rabies is a dangerous but, luckily, uncommon disease that can be transmitted by an animal bite, especially from wild animals such as raccoons, opossums, skunks, coyotes, etc.  Any animal bite should be considered a “dirty” wound, and should not be taped or sutured.

In the United States, there has never been a rabies case transmitted by the following animals: domestic cattle, squirrels, rabbits, rats, sheep, or horses.

Although this is a good thing, the severity of the consequences of a rabies infection can’t be underestimated.  Once a person develops the disease, it is usually fatal.  Vaccinations are available, and regardless of your opinion regarding them, it might be something to consider.

Dr. Bones

via Animal Bites | Doom and Bloom (TM).

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 1, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

24 Responses to :
What To Do When Animals Attack

  1. Bob R says:

    I question the use of benzalkonium chloride in treating animal puncture wounds. Several web sites, normally reputable, recommend AGAINST such use. See http://www.drugs.com/cdi/benzalkonium-chloride-solution.html as an example. Normally benzalkonium chloride is use as a topical only antiseptic.

  2. GRAYWOLF12 says:

    Clean it best you can, apply triple antibiotic ointment, start oral colloidal silver and SEE a DOCTOR. Beside oral I would spray on 125 PPM of silver in place of triple antibiotic ointment. I suggest the antibiotic ointment because it can be purchased in small packages that are easy to carry in a back or fanny pack. Do not wait to see what will happen. Going to a doctor is much prefered to going to a hospital or mortuary.

  3. Donald Conner says:

    I tried to copy this file to my mass storage device but it would not copy. I could print it but I it’s quicker and cheaper to copy to MSD. Why don’t you make this electronically savable, in as much as you give us the ability to print it and make a hard copy? I think we would all, or mostly all, appreciate it very much.


    Donald Conner

    1. Bob R says:

      Donald – Do a copy and paste into any word processor (MS Word, Word Perfect, etc) of the article and then save that file in the appropriate folder. I do that all the time. The key is first copying it into a word processor program. Just to be sure, I just did it into Word Perfect with no problem.

  4. Quester55 says:

    A Very Good story, Contains all of the Facts, Save one. In the event of a Natural or Man-made disaster, Just where do you think a Doctor or Medical help would be located?
    In the Order of Survival, Where & What, Medical Aids can be obtained Without a Prescription?
    Are their any Effective, Natural Cures that really work, If your Stranded in the Wilderness?
    These are the Questions, that many of us need, for survival.
    Just thought I’d Ask.

    1. Bob R says:


      This is a question that you should be prepared to address if you went for a walk in the woods today. What would you do if you were attacked and bitten by a rabid fox? Would you go to the nearest pharmacy, or physician, or help yourself first? Treat the wounds first. Stem any bleeding. If you have a first aid kit, apply an antibiotic (which will NOT treat rabies). Then get out of the woods and get yourself to the nearest medical facility. In today’s world (not yet SHTF), you will have time to get yourself treated. When SHTF, you’re on your own. Be prepared for such situations. As for me, I’ve been immunized against rabies.

      1. richard1941 says:

        What do you do if you are attacked by a rabid rhino, elephant, hippo, or hippie?

        There is a more dangerous creature in the woods than the rabies carrier. It consumes HUMAN BLOOD as a regular part of its diet and it transmits lethal infectious disease. It is the mosquito.

  5. Catilieth says:

    Actually, rabies has been transmitted by domestic cattle, but not in the sense of being bitten by an aggressive animal, since biting is NOT what cattle do. Cattle usually develop the dumb form of rabies, which is not aggressive. They develop laryngeal paralysis and cannot swallow. The farmer assumes the animal is “choked” (has an esophageal obstruction), sticks his hand into the animal’s mouth to see if he can dislodge the apple or whatever, and now he is up to his elbow in Rabies saliva. This is less of a problem now than it was in the past, both because the incidence of rabies is lass, and farmer awareness.

  6. Bob Hamrick says:

    FIRST, the wound should be MADE to bleed, within the pain limits of the individual, and the amount of blood being produced. NEXT, a liberal application of LUGOL’s Iodine in and around the trauma site. NEXT, a sterile compress taped on until the next day. THEN, remove the old bandage, gently wash the entire area with Lava® hand soap, dry with paper towel, toilet tissue, etc., then apply TRUE Colloidal Silver, and a fresh compress dampened in CS. Repeat the last steps daily until the wound is healed.

  7. mouchster says:

    in a pinch and no help around…pee on the wound…
    for my dog wounds, when they get angry with each other, I make a mix of garlic extract, Vitamin E, Olive oil and Cayenne red pepper..those ingredients should kill any infection and start/hasten the wound healing

    1. richard1941 says:

      If I ever go hiking with you, I will be very, very careful to avoid being bitten by a rabid animal!

  8. Hujonwi says:

    One thing I heard about several years ago about Rabies was to get dish soap on the wound as soon as possible and it would kill the virus. Haven’t checked it out though.

  9. Ummm well I liked you Post it is great but you are wrong on one count.
    Opossums do not carry or transmit rabies you need to look it up.
    Though they may transmit a very bacteria Infection.
    I had to look this up when my dog got bit by an Opossum.

  10. B. says:

    You mentioned histoplasmosis. It is also carried by birds and exposes humans when they are exposed to the bird offal. My grandmother died from this disease after cleaning old boards. Remember 1976 Ft Campbell KY when birds and people were dying from it.

  11. Johnb171 says:

    Immigration Lawyers …the time to read or pay a visit to the content or internet sites we have linked to below the… dfddgdbdgbef

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