The lowdown on cat scratches & dog bites

Pets are a fantastic addition to any family, but while they’re learning the ropes, they may scratch or bite your child. But this isn’t limited to just your furry friends, stray animals and even pets of your friends/family may hurt you on accident. If this does happen, here is what you should know:

Dog bites:

  • Children between the ages of one and four are at the greatest risk of being bitten by a dog.
  • Small children are at the greatest risk because of their size, but also because they often don’t behave appropriately around dogs – pulling their tail, taking their food, putting their face into the face of the dog.
  • All dogs – regardless of temperament, age, or breed – can bite.
  • The beloved family pet is the most common biting culprit.

Cat scratch disease:

  • Cat scratch disease is an infection that is spread by fleas amongst cats.
  • The infection can be passed on to humans if an infected cat uses its claws to break the skin.
  • Cat scratch disease usually appears as a lump at the site of the broken skin. This may last for several weeks and result in a gland (usually in the armpit or groin depending on where the scratch occurred) becoming sore and swollen.
  • While most infections disappear without the need for any medical attentions, occasionally it’s necessary to take a course of antibiotics.

Preventing bites and scratches:

  • Always supervise young children near dogs – even the family pet!
  • Make sure that your dog is properly trained to sit, stay, drop and come.
  • Choose a breed that is suited to your families’ lifestyle and environment.
  • Teach your child to always ask permission from the owner before approaching an unfamiliar animal.
  • Never surprise a sleeping or eating dog.
  • Teach your child to stay calm, stand still and avoid eye contact rather than jump and shout, if he’s approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • It’s your responsibility to keep your child safe around animals so teach him how to behave safely around animals.

If your child is bitten:

  • Wounds caused by cats and dogs can become easily infected because of bacteria on their claws and teeth.
  • Always clean and disinfect the site of a scratch or bit thoroughly
  • If there is any sign of infection (red, hot, swollen), see your GP for advice.
  • Keep you child’s tetanus immunisation up to date to avoid the risk of tetanus.

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