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Animal bites can seem insignificant in some cases, but it's always important to seek out medical help. Animal bites have the potential to cause significant infections and wounds that require surgical treatment.

The majority of bites in the United States are from dogs. When bitten by a dog, most people snap to the concern for rabies, but there are actually many other more likely illnesses or complications you could suffer from, like tetanus or deep infections.

Even when a bite doesn't break your skin, there is a potential for injury. A bite could lead to crushing or tearing even if infection isn't likely. For example, if a dog bites down on you and you're wearing a coat, your skin might not break. You could still suffer from a broken bone or torn ligaments, though.

There are signs and symptoms of injuries to watch for after an altercation with an animal. First, look at the wound. Is there swelling or discoloration? If so, you could have damage to the underlying muscles, tendons or bones. Redness around punctures could indicate the beginning of an infection. Pus is also a sign of infection.

If you've been bitten, you could also have nerve damage. A loss of sensation or inability to move a body part could indicate that a nerve has been severed or impacted by the attack.

Not all dog bites result in complications, but many do. It's important to hold the owner responsible, so you can focus on getting well without having to be concerned about medical costs or other expenses you're incurring.

Source: OrthoInfo, "Animal Bites," accessed Sep. 20, 2017

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