Developed by


By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Bite-wounds from cats, dogs and humans are not rare and the risk for infection is large. Bite-wounds in the hand or deep bites are especially dangerous and if this happens, you should call your doctor immediately. Wash other bite-wounds thoroughly with soap.

Most children pat and play with animals without any problems. However, a bite from a dog, a cat or a human are not rare. There are many different bacteria in the oral cavity of animals and humans, and they can transfer to the child when bitten. There is a risk for infection if the bite penetrates the skin and it bleeds.

Around 50 % of all children, a cat, a dog, bites develops an infection in the wound. If the child is bitten in the hand or if the bite wound is deep into the skin there is a high risk for infection. Even though there is no sign of infection, it is recommended that the child start treatment with penicillin immediately.

The infection will appear a couple of days after the child was bit. There is warmth, reddening, swelling and soreness. There can appear boils around the bite-wound. In some cases of infection, there will be red marks around the wound, the child’s lymph nodes raises and the child gets a fever. If the child was bitten in the hand, the infection can appear as follows:

After a couple of days, there will be warmth, reddening, swelling and soreness around the wound. It looks like the child has drawn on her arm with a red pen. The child complains about a sore armpit and you can feel pea-sized sore lymph nodes. Finally, the child gets a fever and generally feels ill.

You should treat with penicillin if there is an infection in the bite-wound.

Click here to read about how you evaluate your child

What can you do?

Wash the bit thorough with soap if it is not bleeding.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If there is redness, warmth and swelling around the wound, this could be a sign of infection. If there are boils around the bite-wound. If you are in doubt if the child is vaccinated against tetanus.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the bleeding does not stop after firm pressure for 5-10 minutes. If the wound cannot be washed properly. If the wound is open to such an extent it has to be sewed or glued. If the child is bit in the hand. If the bit-wound is deep. If the child gets a fever.