Serious Injuries That Can Result From Dog Bites

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 4.5 million Americans suffer from dog bites each year. Perhaps frighteningly, around half of these victims are children. The CDC estimates that one out of five dog bites are severe enough to necessitate medical care. The groups considered most probable to receive a dog bite include men, dog owners, and young children, ages five to nine. Besides being a painful and shocking experience, being bitten by a dog can also have serious medical consequences.

Punctures and Lacerations

The teeth of a dog, especially a large breed, are capable of piercing and tearing the skin, leaving behind puncture wounds and lacerations. These wounds often require stitches in order to close them up, which can be difficult with lacerations. Furthermore, such injuries have a tendency to easily become infected, which can result in secondary medical problems.

Rabies

One of the most alarming aspects of a dog bite injury is the risk of contracting rabies. This disease, if not treated promptly, is fatal. While rabid dogs are uncommon in developed countries, stray dogs may still acquire the virus from contact with other strays or wild animals like squirrels, raccoons, and possums.

Scarring

A dog bite isn’t always a single, quick injury. In some cases, the dog may continue attacking the victim, mauling them extensively. Unfortunately, this sort of attack often results in considerable scarring, which can permanently disfigure the victim or cause other long-term medical issues.

Emotional Trauma

The injuries caused by dog attacks aren’t just physical. They can also leave lasting psychological and emotional wounds. It’s not uncommon for victims, especially those who are children, to suffer from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder following a dog attack. A persistent fear of dogs, suffering panic attacks upon seeing a dog, or recurring nightmares about the incident may be signs of mental and emotional injury.

Blood Loss

Being viciously attacked by a dog presents a very real risk of serious blood loss, especially if the dog’s teeth rupture an artery. If it’s not treated right away, extensive blood loss can result in brain damage and death.

Nerve Damage

Someone who has been bitten by a dog, especially on the feet, hands, arms, or legs, has a high risk of suffering nerve damage. The nerves in these areas of the body are closer to the skin than in other parts, and can be more easily damaged by a dog’s teeth. Nerve damage can, and typically does, result in numbness, paresthesia, pain, or permanent loss of movement.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dog-bites/index.html
http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-pediatrics/news/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/dog-bites-children-focu