Far from a playful nip, a dog bite is a very serious matter that can have lifelong consequences. Nearly 800,000 dog bites are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms across the United States.
Some of these dog bite injuries will require long hospital stays, rehabilitation, reconstructive surgery and emergency life-saving procedures. Tragically, some dog bites will even result in death, especially for young children and older adults.
Common injuries caused by dog bites include:
Skin injuries: When a dog bites, it can cause a laceration, cuts and bruises, abrasions and puncture wounds.
- A laceration is when the skin is roughly torn apart and causes injuries deep below the skin to muscles, tendons and bones. A laceration can cause the skin to gape, opening it up to infection. They often require medical attention to seal the wound and can leave permanent scars.
- An abrasion is a more superficial wound that involves damage to the surface of the skin, but they can be deeper and require medical treatment beneath the skin to remove foreign matter.
- Puncture wounds can come from several or all of the dogs teeth, and can cause damage all the way down to the bone. Certain?breeds?with strong jaws can even break bones when they bite.
These skin injuries can take a long time to heal, causing inflammation to the skin that includes pain, swelling and redness. Some will result in permanent scars if the tissue cannot properly heal, which may require plastic surgery or reconstructive procedures.
About 30,000 people will have to get reconstructive surgery as a result of a dog bite this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dog bite scars can cause lifelong disfigurement.
Others can become abnormal scars, such as keloidal scars, contracture scars, hypotrophic scars and hypertrophic scars. These may require additional treatment and surgery after the initial injury has healed.
- A keloidal scar involves excessive scar tissue created by the body in a response to dog bite injury. It develops after the original wound has healed and then grows larger than the injured area itself. Keloidal scars primarily occur in individuals with darker complexions.
- A contracture scar is when the skin tightens over time, which can reduce a persons ability to move or flex the part of the body where the dog bite injury occurred. These can involve surface wounds that have healed or deeper wounds in the muscles beneath the skin.
- A hypotrophic scar is more pigmented, or darker in color, than skin in the surrounding areas and is sunken into the skin, with examples including scars from acne or chicken pox. Dog bite scars can become hypotrophic, or sunken, scars as well.
A hypertrophic scar is raised and is lighter in color than the skin in the surrounding areas. Over time, it can cover a larger surface area. It occurs most often in parts of the body where skin is stretched, such as the shoulders. It looks like a scar that has not fully healed, often with a reddened appearance.
Treatment for scars can continue long after a dog bite wound has healed, due to the variety of scars and the way their appearance can change over time. Some will affect a persons overall health, such as scars that reduce flexibility or mobility, while others damage a persons appearance.
Treatment for scarring can involved plastic or reconstructive surgery, medication that must be injected such as cortisone, oral medications, bandages, topical skin creams, radiation therapy, laser therapy and cryotherapy.
In addition to scars, dog bites can cause infections through lacerations, puncture wounds and scrapes that may need to be stitched or stapled to close the wound. Sometimes, proper cleaning can prevent this and sometimes it cannot. Dog bites can cause staph infections, which are bacteria that cause other types of diseases because of the toxins they produce.
Another type of bacterial infection associated with dog bites is Group A Streptococcal infections, which in turn lead to illnesses such as strep throat or scarlet fever. And of course, one extremely dangerous infection associated with dog bites is rabies, which can be fatal. Rabies from an infected dog is transferred through the dogs saliva and enters the body through broken skin from a bite where the infection can travel to the brain, causing it to become inflamed.
Dog bites often require tetanus shots and sometimes will require rabies vaccines, which is administered in a series of injections.
A dog bite lawyer knows that dog bite injuries can cause both immediate medical expenses and long-term treatments, and can fight for the compensation you need to cover all these costs.