Dog Bite Statistics and Injuries
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite. There are approximately 800,000 bites per year in the United States that require medical treatment. Most of the victims are children, and most of them are bitten on the face. Almost $165 million is spent treating dog bites and 70% of dog bites occur on the owner’s property.
Dog bites result in approximately 44,000 facial injuries each year. This represents between 0.5% and 1.5% of all hospital emergency room visits. Male patients slightly outnumber females. Unfortunately children comprise 60% of the dog bite victims. Severe injuries occur almost exclusively in children less than 10 years of age. The face is the most frequent target (77% of all injures). Mail carriers are an exception where 97% involve the lower extremities. We see an unusual number of dreadful injuries each spring. Severely injured patients stay an average of 4.2 days in the hospital. Dog bites cause an average of 18 deaths a year.
Types of Injuries
Dog bites can inflict Cuts and lacerations, abrasions, crushing wounds, punctures and fractured bones.
These wounds can often result in disfiguring scars. The central target area for the face includes the lips, nose, and cheeks. Dog bites are becoming more common because of the increase in dog ownership and interaction of people and dogs. Many owners are ignorant of proper care and training of dogs.
The vast majority of bites are by pet dogs and happen when people are engaged in social behavior in appropriate places. They generally (61%) occur close to dog’s home or home of the bitten person. Typically (77%) injuries are by friendly dogs known to the bitten person. It is impossible to predict what might provoke a friendly dog to bite. They may be in pain, become panic stricken, feel threatened, or any number of factors. Children aged 5 or younger are more likely to provoke animals. Dog should never be left unattended with small children.
Hounds are less likely to injure than working or sporting breeds. Puppies are also more likely to injure than an adult dog.
There are social trends towards training and keeping dangerous animals by inexperienced owners. Aggressive guard dogs are trained for self protection. While any dog can bite, the top biting breeds include:
The increase in population of large dogs has resulted in an increased severity of bites. German shepherds were identified as the breed involved in 44% of all bite cases but accounted for only 22% of license registrations. Small purebred dogs accounted for less than 20% of bites but more than 40% of registrations. The pit bull terrier is a common cause of urban dog bite injuries in children. The major problem is that they are frequently (94%) unprovoked. These dogs are also freely roaming animals
Any dog can and will bite in certain circumstances. The tendency for dogs to bite is the product of many factors. Some breeds have a genetic predisposition towards aggressiveness. There is less tendency to bite with early socialization to people, training, quality of care and supervision.
Factors that may increase the tendency to bite include maltreatment, behavior of the victim, and others.
Invading dog’s territory, threat to dog’s family, threat to dog, jealous dog.