More than 800,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year because of dog bites, and these are just the more severe cases. It is estimated that more than 4 million people are actually bitten annually, and an average of 20 fatalities occur each year. With 75 million dogs in the U.S., it would be wise to know what to do when you or someone you know gets bitten by a dog.
Injuries From Dog Bites
The worst case scenarios for dog bites often involve children, because they are smaller, frailer, and more likely to be bitten near the head, where the risk of infection is the most serious. But even adults can suffer severe injuries from a dog bite. The most common injuries you can sustain from a dog bite include:
- Slight to deep lacerations, punctures, abrasions
- Broken bones
- Tissue loss
Even if the bite is not serious or did not break the skin, it is important to thoroughly clean the site of the bite and to find out the immunization status of the dog. Even a small nick in the skin can provide a point of entry for bacteria in a dog’s saliva.
When to Seek Medical Treatment
Getting medical treatment for “just a dog bite” may seem over-cautious when there seems to be minimal damage done, but there are instances when it may become necessary, such as:
- If the dog owner is unsure of the immunization status of the dog, it may be necessary to get tetanus shots and to go through rabies therapy just to be on the safe side, even if the wound or puncture is slight.
- If a dog bite wound appears to be red, starts to swell, and/or there is a throbbing pain in or around the bite site, an infection may be developing.
- If there is damage to the muscle, tendons, nerves or bones. This can be determined by checking if gentle movements or palpation produces pain. A damaged tendon in the hand, for example, will prevent you from moving a finger
- If the victim is a child
Dog bite attorneys may not always be needed in each instance. After all, 77% of dog bite cases involve a dog and its owner. But the dangers of dog bites are very real, so do not hesitate to seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney at the slightest hint of trouble.