Animal Bite Skin Soft Tissue Infection

Animal Bite Skin Soft Tissue Infection

Initial Management

Inclusion Criteria:

  • 2 months of age and greater

  • Animal bite SSTI (i.e. from cat, dog or human)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • <2 months old

  • Animal bite NOT from cat, dog or human

  • Non-animal bite SSTI

  • Consider Infectious Diseases consult if exclusions present

Apply direct pressure to any wounds that are actively bleeding

Clean non-puncture wound with saline via high pressure syringe irrigation


  • Consider Tetanus prophylaxis - see Vaccination Information below
  • For dog and cat bites: consider Rabies prophylaxis; see information below
  • For cat bites: start antibiotic treatment regardless of severity (bites are deeper and may seem superficially well)
  • For human bites: If unvaccinated for Hepatitis B, consider Hepatitis B IgG and vaccination
  • For human bites: assess risk for HIV infection and see HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis Pathway


Do any of the below apply?

  • Is this a significant wound (e.g multiple bites, edema, or significant crush injury)?

  • Does the wound look infected?

  • Does it involve one of the following areas (face, scalp, hand, foot, or genitalia)?

  • Has it penetrated the periosteum or joint capsule?

  • Is the patient immunocompromised (including asplenia)?

  • Or is this a cat bite?

Additional Resources


  • Brendan Campbell, MD, MPH
  • Hassan El Chebib, MD
  • Jennifer Girotto, PharmD
  • Grace Hong, APRN
  • Samantha Pelow, APRN

Last Updated: 10.11.21