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Bite Wounds

Find out why bite wounds from a cat or dog require immediate veterinarian care.

By Margaret Wissman, DVM
Posted: November 1, 2012, 3:30 p.m. PST


The majorities of bite wounds result from pet dogs or cats and are usually crushing or tearing type injuries that may require surgery to correct. These bites are real emergencies that require immediate medical attention because of the bacteria the mammal may carry in the mouth, which is then injected into the tissue when the cat or dog bites the bird. Cat bites can be especially dangerous to birds because of the potentially dangerous bacteria they harbor.


Pet birds may sometimes go into shock if bitten by another pet in the house. The wound might bleed excessively, or the damage may occur internally. Other house pets should never be unsupervised around an uncaged pet bird, as even the most seemingly trustworthy pet might cause attempt to “play” with or attack a pet bird at any time.


African grey with a dog in an unsafe situation
By Gina Cioli/BowTie Inc./Courtesy Jennifer Ketchersid
No matter how well your pet bird and dog seem to get along, a dog or cat might attack a bird without warning. This is an unsafe situation, and a dog or cat should never be allowed around a bird unsupervised.
Immediate attention must be given to cat or dog bites. Any wounds or affected areas should be rinsed thoroughly with warm sterile saline. Contact your avian veterinarian and take your bird as soon as possible to the clinic for immediate evaluation and treatment. This is a true emergency. After cleaning any wounds (do not attempt to do so if the wound is deep or appears to penetrate into the chest or abdominal areas), stop any serious bleeding with a sterile gauze sponge or clean towel using direct pressure, making sure to not restrict breathing, and keep the bird warm and quiet during the trip to the veterinarian.


Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for nursing care at home and give all medications for the length of time they are prescribed for. Antibiotics are almost always required and should be given as soon as possible after the initial bite. Make sure to keep all follow-up veterinary appointments. Depending on the severity of the wounds and their locations, the bird may make a complete recovery or it may suffer from permanent damage.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Health Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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