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.