Most animal bites in the United States are from dogs and cats.
Wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible.
Although any animal may bite, dogs and, to a lesser extent, cats account for most bites in the United States. Owing to their popularity as household pets, dogs account for the majority of bites as a result of protecting their owners and territory. About 10 to 20 people, mostly children, die from dog bites each year. Cats do not defend territory and bite mainly when humans restrain them or attempt to intervene in a cat fight. Domestic animals, such as horses, cows, and pigs, bite infrequently, but their size and strength are such that serious wounds may result. Wild animal bites are rare.
Dog bites typically have a ragged, torn appearance. Cat bites involve deep puncture wounds that frequently become infected. Infected bites are painful, swollen, and red.
Rabies may be transmitted from animals (most commonly bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks) infected with that organism. Rabies is rare among pets in the United States because of vaccination, but in developing countries where animals are less likely to be vaccinated, bites from pet animals may transmit rabies. Squirrel, hamster, and rodent bites rarely transmit rabies.