Emergency advice

How to help someone with an animal bite:

  1. Thoroughly wash wound.
  2. Raise and support it.
  3. If deep, dirty, or you suspect rabies, call 999 straight away.

Bites from sharp, pointed teeth cause deep puncture wounds. This can lead to tissue damage which will allow germs to enter the skin. Therefore you need to treat any bite that breaks the skin, to prevent a risk of infection. 

What to do

  1. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water to reduce the risk of infection being transferred from the animal.

  2. Raise and support the wound and pat it dry, preferably with clean gauze from your first aid kit. Then cover it with a sterile wound dressing.

    • If the wound is large or deep, treat the bleeding, and call 999 or 112 for emergency help.
    • If the casualty is not sure if they’ve had a tetanus jab or the wound is dirty, advise them to seek medical help straight away.
    • If you think there’s a risk of rabies, call 999 or 112 for emergency help. 
    • If the bite is from another human, there’s also a small risk of getting hepatitis or the HIV/AIDS virus. Advise the casualty to seek medical help straight away.

Related first aid advice

How to apply a dressing

When you have a wound, you should always cover it with a dressing as this can help to prevent infection. Find out what to do.

Insect stings

Insect stings can be painful but are not usually dangerous. However, stings to the mouth or throat can be more serious. Find out what to do.

Spider bites

Some spider and insect bites and stings can cause serious illnesses and in some cases be fatal. Find out what to look for and what to do.

St John Ambulance volunteers providing support