How many times have you been bitten?


Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 2, 2004
    Hi there,

    I'm thinking about vet school and I wondered how many times those of you in vet school have been bitten or injured by an animal?

    Do you handle animals such as lizards, rats, mice, and other amphibians? What about wild animals like squirrels and wild rabbits?

    Also, how often do you come into contact with x-rays as they're going and have you ever heard of a classmate getting an infection/ disease from an animal (other than pretty harmless things like ringworm?) Do you have to get immunizations for vet school?




    10+ Year Member
    5+ Year Member
    Jun 20, 2004
    1. Veterinary Student
      I haven't been bitten by an animal yet, but I have been scratched up plenty of times. I'm sure I will get bitten when I go to vet school though. It's inevitable. As far as immunizations go, I have heard that you have to get vaccinated for rabies before you enter vet school. As far as getting disease from animals, I haven't gotten any, but you should be careful of birds because they carry clamydia and other things that humans can get. They can also carry salmonella and campilobactor. Just make sure you wash your hands immediately after handling them and you'll be fine. It's the same way with ring worm. Just wash your hands immediately afterwards. I work in a vets office so I've been exposed to a lot of things. I just wash my hands with some chlorhexidine and iodine and that does the trick. Hope this helps.


      Semental Blanco
      7+ Year Member
      15+ Year Member
      Nov 16, 2001
        One of my horses reared up and knocked the vet over the other week - I was not there, however I heard that it was quite scary as she landed underneath the horse. They went to the sedative, and got back to work (leg x-rays).

        I am pleased she was not hurt; I am just slightly embarrassed my horse caused such a scene.
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        Senior Member
        10+ Year Member
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        Dec 7, 2004
          I've never been bit by a dog. I've had close encounters. When I first started to work at a clinic, I was unaware of some things you just don't do. I went to get a dog out of the kennel and when I reached in to grab him by the collar, he felt threatened and tried to bite me. I don't do that anymore. I always use a loop leesh to get the animal out, or let him come out on his own before putting the leesh on.

          I know a few vets ebcause my friend's dad is a large animal veterinarian. His good buddy was working on a stray chow and the dog came out of anesthetia faster than expected and ended up getting a solid bite on the vet's finger. He ended up losing part of his finger. Luckily, he's still able to do surgury. On a similar note, a vet I work for now had a friend who specialized in surgury who had a great dane bite down on his hand. He was also lucky and didn't lose his career from being bit. The doctors were able to repair his hand.

          It's far more likely to be scratched or bitten by cats in my opinion. they're so quick and agile. One of the techs at the clinic I work at was bit by a cat. She scrubbed it right away, and it seemed to be okay, but by the next day it was swollen. Her hand was swollen to the point that she couldn't make a fist. She missed a shift because of it, and had to take antibiotics.

          The dangers of working in veterinary medicine are there, but there's always ways to help minimize it. Also, if some animals are too fractious, you can always use sedatives or if it's simply too much risk, decline to see the animal.

          As far as x-rays go, legally, there should be shielding and protective wear to keep people safe. You also wear badges that monitor the ammount of radiation you are exposed too. As far as i know, it's not really an issue. The only people I can see it really affecting would be radiology technicians who are taking radiographs all day long, but safety is emphasized even more so in there situations. Yes, there is a risk involved in working with x-rays, but you'll be fine if you keep your doses of common sense high and exposure low by wearing protective gear while in the radiograph room.


          10+ Year Member
          7+ Year Member
          Jan 22, 2005
            I was bitten on my left hand working at a small animal hospital prior to vet school. Have had many patients at vet school but have never been bitten at any school activity. The immunizations required are the childhood ones, tetanus, hepatitis B series and Rabies series.


            Queen of Spayeds
            10+ Year Member
            7+ Year Member
            May 27, 2004
            Washington, DC
              I work with feral cats so being bitten is kind of an occupational hazard. The worst was when my cat Natasha was a kitten and still pretty feral. She got stuck someplace and I reached in to grab her without covering her head with a towel first. Big mistake. She bit my pinkie finger all the way to the bone. The finger swelled to about 4x its normal size and the bone was sore for a month. I avoided infection by soaking the finger in a 50-50 bleach/water solution for 30 minutes right after the bite. I would recommend this for anyone who is bitten.

              The funniest was when I was handling a tiny but freaked out feral kitten and put her up against my chest to reposition my hand. She chomped right through my nipple! It didn't hurt much at all, but it took me half an hour to stop laughing at the whole situation.

              I've never been bitten by an adult feral cat, mostly because I don't try to handle them while they're conscious unless it's absolutely necessary. When I do have to handle them, I've learned how to do it without getting hurt. With kittens, it's different because you're actually trying to handle and socialize them.

              I have received pre-exposure rabies vaccines, so that's one expense I should be spared once I get to vet school.


              Okstate 2010
              10+ Year Member
              5+ Year Member
              Jul 1, 2004
              1. Veterinary Student
                I've been bitten by dogs that drew blood about five times, only one of those was in a veterinary clinic setting. It was forth of july and we were pack with about 300 dogs and cats just for boarding. I was feeding the big dogs and wasn't being careful enough to pay attention to the dog's body language. He was nervous from all the other dogs barking and everything else. I missed out on a shift and had to get butterfly stitches. The other times have all been with my dogs or a friend's dog. The first time I was bitten was when I was a toddler and was learning how to walk and I spooked our family dog. Bit me in the face and I had to get stitches. I've also been scratched pretty bad when catching feral kittens. I don't really care about being bitten or scratched at this point. I had a friend who got kicked in the head by a horse and missed a semester of school recovering from it. All this and I haven't even gotten to vet school yet. :)

                Oklahoma State (where I'm hoping to go) has a wildlife and exotic department that works with wild animals but I don't remember if everyone gets to work in that department or only those who are specializing in that area.

                I had to help with x-rays for one vet I worked for and we had protective aprons that covered the whole body. There was a time or two that I was called in from the other room to help hold a big dog and didn't have time to put on an apron but I don't think there would a situation like that in vet school, I'm sure they'd be more careful than that.


                Wide awake and jittery
                10+ Year Member
                5+ Year Member
                Apr 27, 2004
                Champaign, IL
                  Never been bitten... but I expect I will be. :) You need all kinds of vaccinations to be a vet. Most notably -- rabies. We are required to have rabies vaccinations by the end of 1st semester (although the deadline was extended due to a shortage), otherwise you're not coming back for 2nd semester.

                  We try not to get bitten by any mammals in the wildlife clinic. Otherwise you have to euthanize the animal and submit them for rabies testing. Likewise, you try not to get bitten by any client's animal in the hospital, otherwise they have to be tested and the extra days of boarding is charged to the client... they are never very happy about that.

                  X-rays are always taken with protective gear... lots of it. No exceptions, at least not in the teaching hospital. I mean, I suppose it's not the safest profession, but it's far from boring!


                  Full Member
                  10+ Year Member
                  Dec 30, 2004
                  1. Veterinarian
                    I've been bitten, but not in a veterinary or shelter situation. It's embarrassing to admit, too, because it wasn't that long ago and I was fairly stupid. A roommate had a very dominant Mal who started fighting with my dog one night. I lifted the Mal's hips and started to pull him back. That's when he turned and nailed me. The little f---er's teeth marks still scar my arm.

                    RAVS requires rabies vacs, so I'm getting my first shot in a week :cool:
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