Almost 75 million dogs live in the United States, and many victims of dog bites don't report the attack. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the estimate of 4.5 million dog bites each year in the U.S. may be under reported.
Approximately 880,000 dog bite victims seek emergency medical care at hospitals in the U.S. every year.
Dogs have rounded teeth, and it is the pressure exerted by their jaws that can cause significant damage to the tissues under the skin, including bones, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.
More than 30,000 victims of dog bites undergo reconstructive surgery each year, and 15-20 people die of dog bites yearly.
Who is at risk for a dog bite?
The risk of being bitten by a dog increases if there is a dog in the home; the more dogs there are, the greater the risk. Men are more frequent victims than women.
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are more likely to be bitten by a dog than other age groups. Children are also more likely to present for medical attention.
How can dog bites be prevented?
Dog bites often occur when there is communication breakdown between the dog and the victim. It is common to have an unprovoked attack by a stray dog and it is the dog owner or a family member who is bitten.
Dog bite prevention begins with:
- Choosing a dog breed that is compatible with the family situation.
- Aggressive dogs may not be appropriate in a home with infants and small children.
- Dogs are social animals; therefore socializing and appropriate training will help minimize the risk of dog bites.
Safety tips to prevent dog bites
- Do not approach a stray or unfamiliar dog, especially if its owner is not present.
- Do not approach a dog with quick motions or from above. Allow time for the dog to acknowledge your presence before attempting to pet it.
- Prior to contact with the dog, ask the owner if is OK to pet the dog.
- If a confrontation occurs, do not make eye contact and do not run or scream.
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog while it is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
- Do not leave young children or infants unsupervised with a dog.
Shezad Malik is an Internal Medicine and Cardiology specialist, a licensed Texas Medical Doctor and Defective Medical Device and Dangerous Drug Attorney. Dr Shezad Malik Law Firm has offices based in Fort Worth and Dallas and represents people who have suffered catastrophic and serious personal injuries including wrongful death, caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.