Severe Dog Bites

Almost a million dog bites in the United States each year are severe enough to require medical attention. The majority of dog bite victims that require medical attention are children, with children between the ages of five and nine being the most common dog attack victims. Severe dog bites can result in serious injury, infection, and even death, so patients should seek medical attention immediately after the dog attack.

Severe Dog Bites and Children

Children are more susceptible to severe dog bites because children are closer in stature to the height of a dog. This can give the dog a feeling of superiority and dominance in some cases. The height also puts many dogs at face level with children, and most severe dog bites target the child’s face and especially the eyes. About 70 percent of dog bite fatalities in the United States are children under ten years of age.

Occurrence of Severe Dog Bites

In about two thirds of all severe dog bites cases, the victim was familiar with the dog that attacked and the attack occurred on or near the victim’s property. The idea that most dog attacks are perpetrated by stray dogs as opposed to family dogs is a common misconception. Chained dogs are more likely to attack than dogs that are not put on chains in the yard, with about 25 percent of severe dog bites resulting in fatality involving chained dogs.

Severe Dog Bites and Certain Breeds

Although there is the perception that certain breeds are more likely to bite, any dog is prone to attack in the right situation. The likelihood of severe dog bites is higher with larger breeds, simply because the dog is larger, heavier, and more powerful and is therefore able to inflict more damage in less time. There has been breed-specific legislation enacted restricting certain breeds in many communities, but this legislation has failed to reduce the number of dog bite incidents in most cases.

Preventing Severe Dog Bites

Most dog attack situations are preventable if the right steps are taken. Dog owners are responsible for making sure that dogs are properly supervised and may be liable if a severe dog bite occurs. However, dog attacks are a public health problem and should be addressed as such.

There are a number of ways to prevent severe dog bites, including:

  • Never chaining a dog in the yard
  • Supervising children while interacting with dogs
  • Educating the general public about dog etiquette
  • Properly caring for dogs
  • Housing strays
  • Neutering and spaying dogs
  • Training dogs




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