Dog Bite Injuries - Introduction
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are approximately 4.5 million dog bite victims in the USA per year. Around 750,000 of these require medical attention: (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1067642/). Some dog bites can even be fatal. Between 2005-2017 there were 433 deaths resulting from dog bites in the USA.
Of course, the changes of being bitten by a dog increase in professions which require frequent exposure to dogs, such as postal workers. In 2014, a total of 5,767 UPS postal workers were attacked by dogs (Source: http:dogbites.org). The most number of bites occurred in Los Angeles (74), while Miami was in 15th place with 25 bites.
The breeds of dog most commonly involved in dog bites
It's a stereotype that Pit Bulls are the most dangerous type of dog, but the fact is that statistics seems to support this. In 2017, the breed of dog most commonly involved in dog bite incidents was the Pit Bull with 74%. In second place was the German Shepherd (10%), then Mixed Breeds in third place (8%).
Negative effects of dog bites
Besides the obvious medical injuries occurred during dog bites, they also have other negative effects in terms of both mental health issues and the cost to the economy. Dog bite losses are in excess of $1 billion per year. Plus, there are often psychosocial consequences of dog bites. There are many studies documenting the psychological effects of dog bites in children and adults.
Types of dog bite injury
According to the typology created by Dr. Ian Dunbar, there are 6 types of dog bite:
- Obnoxious or aggressive behavior but no skin-contact by teeth
Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture. However, may be skin nicks (less than one tenth of an inch deep) and slight bleeding caused by forward or lateral movement of teeth against skin, but no vertical punctures.
One to four punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. Maybelacerations in a single direction, caused by victim pulling hand away, owner pulling dog away, or gravity (little dog jumps, bites and drops to floor).
One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. Mayalso have deep bruising around the wound (dog held on for N seconds and bore down) or lacerations in both directions (dog held on and shook its head from side to side).
Multiple-bite incident with at least two Level 4 bites or multiple-attack incident with at least one Level 4 bite in each.
Dog Bite Treatment
The required treatment will depend on the severity of the dog bite. Below we have listed three general approaches:
1. Preventing dog bites
Prevention is of course the ideal scenario. The Center for Disase Control provides information about how best to avoid dog bites.
2. First Aid
Despite our best efforts, dog bites do still occur. When thy occur, the first state of treatment is first aid. If the bite is life-threatening, you should call 911 or proceed to your nearest ER immediately. Other first aid actions include:
- clean the wound immediately by running warm tap water over it for a couple of minutes – it's a good idea to do this even if the skin doesn't appear to be broken
- remove any objects from the bite, such as teeth, hair or dirt
- if the wound is bleeding heavily, put a clean pad or sterile dressing over it and apply pressure
- dry the wound and cover it with a clean dressing or plaster
- take painkillers if you're in pain, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – children under 16 years old shouldn't take aspirin
- seek medical advice
3. Dog Bites Reconstruction & Scar Reduction
Even with the best administering of first aid, dog bites may result in scarring. This is where a plastic surgeon can help. There are several plastic surgery techniques to remove and reduce the severity of the scar, helping to return the appearance of the skin to its pre-accident condition. Read more about plastic surgery for scars.
About Dr. Thomas Zaydon
Dr. Zaydon is a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgery with over 20 years of experience. He treats the following patients: burns, nasal fractures, facial fractures, open wound, skin ulcers, scars, ruptured/displace breast/body implants. He has hands on experience with difficult catastrophic cases including severe burn victims. He is the Chief of Plastic Surgery at Mercy hospital, he is the former President of the Florida Society of Plastic Surgeons and former President of Miami Society of Plastic Surgeons. He serves on the board of trustees for the Southeastern Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and active member of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. He serves on the review board for a major insurance company that reviews doctors malpractice insurance claims. He reviews cases/authorizations for a large worker's compensation carrier. He has worked with plaintiff and defense firms. Doctor Zaydon has impeccable credentials and has privileges at 11 major hospitals/ASC facilities.
Dr. Zaydon is very experienced in the treatment of dog bites, including those incurred through work-related accidents (e.g. postal worker dog bites) and those incurred in domestic settings. Depending on your injury, Dr. Zaydon will select the most appropriate procedure or treatment option which will help your skin to it's pre-injury condition.