How are animal bites characterized?

Updated: Sep 18, 2018
  • Author: Alisha Perkins Garth, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Dog bites typically cause a crushing-type wound because of their rounded teeth and strong jaws. An adult dog can exert 200 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure, with some large dogs able to exert 450 psi. [4] Such extreme pressure may damage deeper structures such as bones, vessels, tendons, muscle, and nerves.

A bite from a dog is shown below.

Animal bites. Wounds to the left arm and hip infli Animal bites. Wounds to the left arm and hip inflicted during a dog attack.

The sharp pointed teeth of cats usually cause puncture wounds and lacerations that may inoculate bacteria into deep tissues. Infections caused by cat bites generally develop faster than those of dogs. [5, 6]

Limited literature is available on other mammalian bites. Domesticated ferrets are responsible for several documented cases of unprovoked attacks on young children and infants. The bites of foxes, raccoons, skunks, bats, dogs, and cats have been clearly linked to rabies exposure. Bites from monkeys, particularly macaques, are of concern because of the possibility of transmission of B virus, a herpes virus that causes fatal infection in humans. [7] Bites from large herbivores generally have a significant crush element because of the force involved.

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