If Fido and Fluffy have gotten into a tussle, your feline friend may have bitten your pup while defending herself from him. While the bite itself may not be all that serious, the bacteria your kitty carries in her mouth can lead to an infection. Unfortunately, some of these infections are more serious than others and could be fatal, even if your pup's wound is treated by a veterinarian.
Bacteria in a Cat's Mouth
All kitties, even those who are healthy and properly immunized against disease, carry bacteria in their mouth. When Fluffy bites a dog and punctures his skin with her teeth, the bacteria in her mouth will be deposited into his body, leading to an infection of the skin, muscle or other affected tissues in the area. According to a study published in the April 2011 issue of "Clinical Microbiology Reviews," the most common type of bacteria found in a cat's mouth is the Pasteurella species. Other possible types of bacteria that can infect a bite wound caused by a cat include Streptococci species, Staphylococcal species, Neisseria species, Moraxella species and Corynebacterium species.
Sometimes a dog's untreated cat bite may become infected with bacteria that reside in his environment. This is the case with Clostridium tetani, a type of bacteria found in soil and in the dead tissue of wounds, according to petMD. Clostridium tetani cause tetanus, commonly referred to as lockjaw, a condition that can occur in dogs after a cat bite. Lockjaw is a serious disease that affects the muscles and the nervous system, causing stiffness, trouble eating, problems moving and even paralysis. Another environmental bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can be passed from a person to a dog through an open wound like a cat bite, warns ABC News.
If Kitty's Ill
If your kitty or a neighborhood feline has a disease, the types of infections she can pass to your dog can be worse than if she is healthy. A kitty infected with bartonellosis, commonly referred to as cat scratch fever, can pass this disease to your pup with her bite, warns the Healthline website. Fortunately, most pups recover from cat scratch disease with supportive veterinary care. The worst case scenario is if the kitty has rabies, because she carries this deadly virus in her saliva and will pass it to your dog through her bite. Thankfully, if your dog is current on his rabies vaccinations, he should have the immunity necessary to protect him from this fatal disease.
Treatment and Abscesses
If you notice your dog has been bitten by a kitty, even your own feline friend, get him to the vet to clean and treat the wound. Prior to going to the vet, you can gently pour a bit of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide on his wound to immediately rinse away any bacteria, recommends Animal Planet. Without treatment, bacteria can infect the wound and it could become abscessed, forming a fluid-filled bump at the location of the bite. Follow your veterinarian's instructions for treating the wound. Administer any topical or oral antibiotics to Fido if your vet prescribes them to prevent or treat an infection in his wound.
- Clinical Microbiology Reviews: Microbiology of Animal Bite Wound Infections
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Bacteriologic Analysis of Infected Dog and Cat Bites
- Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine: What You Should Know About Animal Bites
- Animal Planet: How to Treat a Cat That has Suffered an Animal Bite
- Heathline: Animal Bite Infections
- petMD: Bartonella Infection in Dogs
- petMD: Lockjaw in Dogs
- Heathline: Tetanus
- Vetstreet: Abscesses and Bite Wounds in Cats and Dogs
- ABC News: Family Pets May Harbor MRSA, Other Nasties
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.