We all love our pets in Boulder, but sometimes bites happen. Animal bites on the hand are more likely to become infected than on any other part of the body. Here are what signs and symptoms to look for:

Animal bites of the hand are more likely to become infected than other parts of the body. Spot an infection – which can result in surgeries, amputations or even death – by watching for these signs:

  1. Increased redness and pain around the bite
  2. Difficulty moving the body part
  3. Drainage
  4. Swelling
  5. Development of an abscess (a bump full of puss or debris)
  6. Red streaks going up the arm
  7. Enlarged lymphnodes
  8. Fever

Reduce your risk of infection by visiting a doctor immediately after an animal bite, regardless of whether you are experiencing any problematic symptoms. Dog and cat bites are the most common animal bites. Learning how to prevent and treat these injuries is important. Here are some tips:

Preventing dog bites

  • Never use your hands to break up a dog fight. Instead, use a loud noise to get the dogs’ attention.
  • Where a protective glove when administering medicine to a dog.
  • Before petting an unfamiliar dog, let he/she sniff your hand first.

Preventing cat bites

Do not approach a cat if he/she is eating or if it is a mother with her litter.

Use caution when approaching an unfamiliar cat.
If bitten by a dog or cat, wash the bite with soap and water and then seek medical treatment. Cat bites are more likely to lead to infection.

Getting Treatment

Getting treatment quickly can minimize the risk of problems. Your doctor will examine the wound and ask about how the injury occurred. A complete and honest account of the events will help your doctor treat you properly. For animal bites, it is helpful if you are able to describe the type of animal, its general health, behavior, and any known rabies vaccine status. X-rays may be used to identify any damage to the hand and to look for tooth fragments.

Follow-up care is crucial in the case of animal bites to ensure that infection is controlled or has not developed and to restore function to the hand.


To meet with one of our specialists contact BoulderCentre (303) 449-2730 and ask for Dr. Daniel Master or Dr. David Conyers.

Article courtesy of The Hand Care Society.