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Scratches From Your Pawsome Buddy? – Learn How To Treat Pet Bites And Scratches

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Multiple studies suggest that the bond between people and their pets can reduce stress and bring positivity and happiness to their owners. Unsurprisingly enough, cats and dogs are two of the most common pets people own. But here is something you should be aware of: both cats and dogs tend to get your attention by biting and pawing, which could lead to bites or scratches on your skin. A bite or scratch may mean that those germs are passed on to you, causing diseases like tetanus, rabies or cat scratch fever. 

It’s important to note that both stray animals and indoor pets can be carriers of bacteria and viruses. While dogs have larger and stronger mouths that can bite repeatedly and aggressively, cats bites are smaller. Both these bites can result in deep puncture wounds. This poses the risk of bacteria being pushed deep into the tissues, creating a greater chance of infection. 

When it comes to scratches from cats, you might get ‘cat-scratch fever’ if the cat is ill. This is bacterial and is caused when an infected cat’s saliva gets into an open wound. If left untreated, a scratch from a cat can give rise to infections that spread to other parts of your body, causing septicemia (blood poisoning), which requires hospitalisation.

While a scratch from a dog can similarly cause bacterial infections, it usually accompanies several other complications. These include the possibility of contracting rabies, nerve or muscle damage, and more. In addition, the risk of bacterial infection may be greater in people with weakened immune systems. Therefore, if the scratch injury is severe or from an unknown or unvaccinated dog, you need to see a doctor.

The skin scratch treatment depends on the severity and size of your wounds. Watch for signs of infection such as:

  • fever 
  • swelling 
  • increased redness or pain 
  • fluid leaking 
  • red streaks from the bite

However, you can handle many minor bites and scratches from dogs and cats at home by appropriately following standard first aid. You can avoid infection by taking the following precautions: 

Stop the bleeding

The first and foremost step in scratch wound treatment is to stop the bleeding from the wound. Put gentle pressure on the wound until it stops bleeding. You can use any clean and dry material like a cloth or a gauze pad. Don't worry if the blood seeps in through the cloth. Just add another layer to it and continue pressing the wound for stubborn bleeds. You can keep the area elevated as it slows down the blood flow. If bleeding does not subside even after applying pressure, seek medical assistance immediately.

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Cleanse the bite or scratch

Once the bleeding is under control, you must clean the wound thoroughly to avoid lingering debris. You must wash your hands before touching the wound. Make use of antiseptics to clear the injury site. You can dab the wound with a clean towel or gauze pad. It is advisable not to utilise fluffy cotton balls as the strands can get stuck in your bites and scratches.

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Apply an antibiotic cream

Most infected bites and scratches have polymicrobial organisms such as bacteria, fungi and other pathogens. Therefore, it is recommended to use a good antibiotic cream for scratch wound treatment. Apply the cream directly to the scratch caused by the pet, spreading a thin layer. Use gloves if possible, and do not rub the skin vigorously. Always check the expiry date of the antibiotic cream before you use it.

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Cover the wound

After applying a thin layer of antibiotic cream, you can cover up the affected area with a wound plaster such as Hansaplast's silver healing washproof bandage. Plasters protect skin tissue from external influences, such as strain and contamination. The silver ions in this plaster provide additional protection against bacteria and germs to prevent infection. 

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When should you see a doctor?

If the wound is severe or does not stop bleeding, seek medical attention immediately. The doctor will assess the risk of infection, look for other injuries or foreign particles stuck in your wound, and prescribe a skin scratch treatment. You might also be advised a tetanus booster shot as a part of cat scratch treatment, but this depends on how deep your scratch is.

When it comes to taking care of minor injuries caused by pets, a well-packed first aid kit with suitable plasters can heal the wound and prevent infections. If you live with a cat or a dog, always ensure it gets all required immunisations and regular vet checkups. 

Are you still confused about how to treat scratches? Then, check out Learn to care for Scratch Wounds in a few Easy Steps.



Please note that the above recommendations are general care tips. Consult a health care professional in case of any uncertainty around wound treatment and healing.

Always see your doctor if a wound is deep, bleeding profusely, or showing infection signs. For diabetic patients especially, proper wound care holds the utmost importance. Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or your podiatrist, even when minor wounds and cuts – especially if they’re on your feet.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Although compiled with great care, it is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have or suspect a health problem, consult your doctor immediately. 

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