Seeking Emergency Care for Animal, Child or Insect Bites

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Swedish Medical Center

When an animal, child or insect bites your child it can be frightening. Most bites are minor and can be treated at home, but it's important to know when to seek emergency care.

Dog, Cat, Pet, Wildlife and Other Children Bites

Fogs, cats and other pets bite children much more commonly than adults.

Additionally, young children are at the highest risk of bites from other children.

You may want to seek emergency care for your child if: 

  • The bite is to the hand, face or joint: There is a risk of underlying damage and infection.

  • Rabies or tetanus: A bite from a wild or feral (a domestic animal that has gone wild) animal, or livestock, puts your child at risk of rabies or tetanus. Follow-up shots often are necessary.

  • Transmission of virus: A bite from another child that breaks the skin can lead to the transmission of viruses. Always have a human bite checked by a pediatrician.

  • Cat bites/scratches: Cat bites or scratches can become easily infected, especially on the joint or hand. Antibiotics are usually recommended.

  • Dog bites: Dog bites also can become infected and may require antibiotics if -the skin is broken.

Snakes, Spiders and Insects Bites

Insect bites and stings are usually a painful nuisance that can respond well to treatment at home. But, some snakes, spiders and insects can be very poisonous.Therefore, it is important to look out for these symptoms to determine if emergency care is necessary.

  • Snake bite: Unless you know for sure that the snake is not poisonous, seek emergency care. Be sure to take note of the snake's appearance so you can describe it to the emergency staff.

  • Spider bite: Denver has a large population of black widow spiders. If your child has any of these symptoms after a spider bite, seek pediatric ER care:
    • Severe pain anywhere on the body
    • Redness and warmth around the bite
    • Severe cramping
    • Drainage from the bite
    • Vomiting

    Bee or wasp stings: A large rash or swelling around the sting area, or pain/ swelling lasting a few days, warrants a call to your pediatrician as these symptoms may indicate an infection. A severe allergic reaction would be indicated by:
    • Difficulty breathing/ tightness in the throat
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Facial swelling

Swedish Pediatric Emergency Care