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What to do after a cat or dog bites

Imagine walking down the street when a stray dog suddenly runs after you and attacks. Or, maybe you were at a friend's house when the family cat suddenly decided to claw you, digging deep into your arm. Both situations are similar and threatening to you; you're injured, and you need to get medical help.

After you are bitten by a dog or cat, there are some steps you can take to lessen your chances of infection and complications. The first thing to do is always to seek medical attention; call your doctor or head to the hospital. To stop the bleeding and cleanse the wound, use soap and water to wash it off before applying pressure with a clean towel or sterile bandage. Injuries that are bleeding should be held above the heart to prevent excessive bleeding and to slow the loss of blood.

After you've received medical attention or while you're waiting for the medical team to arrive at the scene, the authorities including police and animal control should be informed about the attack. If the animal was a stray, then the police and animal control will likely want to look for it to test it for medical problems that could affect your recovery.

When you arrive at the hospital, you will have the wound cleaned. You may need to receive tetanus shots, rabies shots and other vaccines if the animal was not vaccinated or has unknown vaccination records. You may have to take antibiotics, and you may even need surgery depending on the severity of the attack.

Such medical care can be expensive. You may also be unable to work. You can seek compensation from the animal owner's homeowners insurance or you may have to file a lawsuit. An experienced attorney can help you pursue the right option for your case.

Source: Family Doctor, "Cat and Dog Bites," accessed Sep. 28, 2016

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