Dog Bite Injuries

Depending on the severity, dog bite injuries can have serious implications for dog bite victims. Before treatment begins, dog bite injuries should first be assessed and categorized. Once specialists are aware of the nature and extent of dog bite injuries, appropriate treatment can begin. Failure to receive timely and appropriate treatment can result in life-threatening complications, such as infection, disease, and increased scarring.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite injuries can be classified into five major categories. These categories describe the nature of the dog bite injuries sustained by the victim. Categorization of dog bite injuries can also help victims and medical professionals to determine the appropriate treatment for the injury.

Abrasion

Abrasions are superficial wounds, such as scratches and cuts. Abrasions are the most minor type of dog bite injury. In many cases, abrasions do not require professional medical treatment and can often be treated at home. Dog bite patients should be aware that severe complications such as infection and disease transmission can still occur in abrasion injuries.

Laceration

Lacerations are deep open cuts. Typically, lacerations appear irregular and tear-like. In most cases, deep lacerations will cause excessive bleeding. Patients with lacerations should apply immediate pressure using a clean cloth in order to help stop the bleeding. Depending on the size and depth, laceration dog bite injuries may require stitches to close the wound.

Puncture

Puncture wounds occur when the dog’s teeth pierce the skin. Punctures are among the most common dog bite injuries to become infected. Therefore, puncture dog bite injuries may require treatment with antibiotics.

Crushing

Dog bites may cause the bones or tissues to be crushed. Crushing injuries involving the bones often result in bone breaks or fractures. Crushing injuries are more common in dog bites from larger and stronger breeds of dogs, such as a German Shepherd or pit bull. These injuries rarely occur from smaller breeds with smaller mouths and weaker jaws.

Avulsion

Avulsion is among the most severe types of dog bite injuries. During avulsion, tissues or body parts are partially or completely torn from their normal position. A skin or muscle avulsion may cause the dog bite injury to look like a “flap” of skin or muscle hanging from the body. Ear avulsions may cause the dog attack victim’s ear to be partially or completely detached from the head. Avulsion injuries may require reconstructive surgery.

Dog Bite Complications

Dog bite injuries can cause severe complications, such as:

  • Infection of the bite wound
  • Infection of the body or blood due to invading bacteria
  • Diseases such as rabies or tetanus
  • Emotional distress, such as PTSD
  • Self-image issues in cases of scarring or disfigurement

Dog Bite Treatment

Treatment for dog bite injuries depends on the size, location, and severity of the injury. It is estimated that roughly 80 percent of dog bite injuries do not require professional medical attention, and may be treated at home. Severe dog bite injuries may require hospitalization and medical procedures such as stitching, administration of antibiotics, or reconstructive surgery in cases of disfigurement.

 

 

Sources:

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Dinman, Stefanie, and Dorothy A. Jarosz. “Managing serious dog bite injuries in children.” Pediatric Nursing Sept.-Oct. 1996: 413+. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

Presutti, R J. “Prevention and Treatment of Dog Bites.” American Family Physician 63.8 (2001): 1567-1572. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

Ward, Mark A. “Bite Wound Infections.” Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine 14.2 (2013): 88. ProQuest. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

Weiss, Harold B., Deborah I. Friedman, and Jeffrey H. Coben. “Incidence of Dog Bite Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments.” JAMA 279.1 (1998): 51-3. ProQuest. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.