Pet Bites

Recently, my son’s teenage friend appeared at our door, face and neck bruised, battered and stitched up with so many sutures he resembled the Canucks after playing the Flying Fathers. Flatly denying a bad date with a good girl, he confessed that his sweet, serene family dog, Fangslaughter, had done this to him. Stated he had simply leaned over the lying cur (albeit wearing his Halloween postal-worker outfit, complete with assault weapon and strike notice) and began to playfully tease, when the dog simply up and bit his face. There was no apparent reason for this attack, though perhaps in retrospect, resting his knee on the dog’s privates (though in reality there’s nothing terribly private about dog’s privates… more like sergeants) may have prompted the Rover rampage.

One of the commonest reasons for a visit to the common emergency room are common bites by common pets. This is the truth about cats and dogs.


Our feline friends are fraught with filthy festering fangs and should you ever get a deep puncture bite, regardless of the size, get treated. The cat fangs are so slender and sharp that they can actually pierce and infect bone with just a wee opening! Cat bites have a very high infection rate and can be quite serious. Unless it’s a very superficial scrape, I treat all bites of the hands and face as well as any other deep penetrating bites elsewhere, with antibiotics. If you’re punctured, drown the wound in peroxide and head to your doctor.

If your cat is like mine, every so often it loses it’s sense of animal taxonomy and snuggles into my chest thinking that I am it’s long lost parent. It then begs for some cash and the keys to the car and when denied it snuggles up closer, revs the motor up to Harley-Davidson level and begins kneading me with it’s claws. I don’t move a muscle, fearing even to breathe lest those claws be tempted to rake the very skin off my bones. I become categorically catatonic for fear of a dermal catastrophe. This is usually when my son catapults into the room testing out his new 80000 decibel air horn. The cat takes a goodly portion of my bleeding hide with it to wherever cats go to when they evaporate their freaked out carcasses through the ceiling. For the next few days, I end up checking myself for swollen lymph nodes to see if I’ve developed cat scratch fever. Although not dangerous, it can be an explanation for unexplained swollen “glands” in your armpits or neck. It is also a misnomer as there is no fever.


While a cat uses the more elegant deep puncture method, dawgs prefer the crushing approach. This means that the wound is usually not as deep and subsequently less infection ensues. My rule of thumb and fingers is that if the bite involves the hand and is deep, antibiotics are in order. Elsewhere, watch for infection very, very carefully. Knowing where my own dog’s mouth has been in the space of 24 hours, makes me want to take the pharmacy’s stock of antibiotics, disinfectants and birth control pills.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of stitches. Therefore NEVER:

1. Tease a feeding dog or cat. A dog’s motto is “Bite the hand that feeds you if the hand gets between me and my kibbles `n bits.”
2. Physically break up dog fights. Try distraction by making noise and yelling “ If you don’t stop right now, someone’s going to get neutered.”
3. Pick up strays, particularly if their collar reads “Rabid Randy”.
4. Touch an injured animal. A guaranteed bite or your money back.
5. Pick up puppies when the mother is near. Lure the mother away first by lifting the toilet lid in the next room.

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