Related Terms

  • Anti-venom, bats, cat bite, copperhead, coral snake, cottonmouth, dog bite, infection, jellyfish, poisonous snake, Portuguese man-of-war, puncture wound, rabies, rabies shot, rabies vaccine, raccoons, snakebite, tentacles, venom, venomous.


  • An animal bite can result in a break in the skin, a bruise, or a puncture wound. Some animals inject venom into the patient’s skin when they bite. Venomous bites can be potentially deadly if left untreated.
  • Animals most likely to bite humans include dogs, cats, snakes, bats, raccoons, and other rodents. Jellyfish can also sting humans by injecting their venom into the patient’s skin.
  • Some bites require medical treatment, such as stitches or antibiotics to treat infections.
  • Some snakes are poisonous and release venom when they bite the flesh. Individuals who are bitten by snakes should seek immediate medical treatment because bites may cause death if left untreated.
  • Some animals carry a potentially fatal disease called rabies. Therefore, individuals who are bitten by unvaccinated animals or animals that are not their own should seek immediate medical treatment. They will receive rabies shots to prevent the disease from developing.
  • Some individuals can develop serious allergic reactions, called anaphylaxis, after an animal bite or sting. This occurs when a patient is allergic to the animal’s saliva or venom. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and loss of unconsciousness. Anaphylaxis is life threatening and must be treated immediately with a medication called epinephrine.
  • If treated properly, most victims of animal bites completely recover. Bites should be cleaned with antibacterial soup or a disinfectant (such as povidone/iodine solutions, pads, or swabs) immediately after the bite to help prevent an infection.

Integrative Therapies


Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence

  • Papain
    : Limited available study has not found a clinical or statistically significant difference between jellyfish stings treated with papain or vinegar. Additional research is needed.

  • Use cautiously in patients sensitive to papain; symptoms may occur after ingestion of foods seemingly unrelated to papain. Use cautiously in patients being treated for prostatitis. Use Wobenzym®, which contains papain, cautiously, especially in those with bleeding disorders or taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets. Use cautiously as an adjuvant to radiation therapy. Avoid in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Avoid in patients using immunosuppressive therapy.

Author Information

  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

  1. American Red Cross. . Accessed May 5, 2009.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). . Accessed May 5, 2009.
  3. Juckett G, Hancox JG. Venomous snakebites in the United States: management review and update. Am Fam Physician. 2002 Apr 1;65(7):1367-74.
    View Abstract
  4. Kumar S, Miranda-Massari JR, Gonzalez MJ, et al. Intravenous ascorbic acid as a treatment for severe jellyfish stings. P R Health Sci J. 2004 Jun;23(2):125-6.
    View Abstract
  5. Mills DS, Shepherd K, Butcher R, et al. Dog bite prevention. Further to the news report in The Veterinary Record. Vet Rec. 2007 Mar 24;160(12):415.
    View Abstract
  6. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. . Copyright © 2009. Accessed May 5, 2009.
  7. Philipsen TE, Molderez C, Gys T. Cat and dog bites. What to do? Guidelines for the treatment of cat and dog bites in humans. Acta Chir Belg. 2006 Nov-Dec;106(6):692-5.
    View Abstract
  8. Taylor JG. Treatment of jellyfish stings. Med J Aust. 2007 Jan 1;186(1):43.
    View Abstract