Though the family dog can be a faithful friend, not every dog is friendly, and some dogs have a bite far worse than their bark. Many dogs, especially puppies, bite non-aggressively from time to time while playing; however, the light “nips” from a friendly dog during playtime are less worrisome than a genuine bite.
Dog bites are painful but often heal with time. However, potential issues arising from a bite may last longer than you think. Some dog bites can cause permanent injuries.
Causes and Warning Signs of Dog Bites
At the end of the day, even the friendliest dog is still an animal with instincts. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 800,000 people per year are bitten badly enough by a dog to require medical attention. Children and the elderly are the top two groups affected by dog bites, with children making up about half of all dog bite victims. Texas is also the number one state for dog bite fatalities, with 34 fatal dog bites between 2005 and 2023. Most dog bites occur because the animal is startled or frightened, or feels threatened in some way. A dog may display warning signs before it lunges or bites, such as growling, barking, showing its teeth, or crouching in a defensive position.
Approaching a strange dog without asking its owner is generally a bad idea, even if the dog seems friendly. It may be reactive to strange people or even to something as subtle as the perfume you are wearing. Depending on the dog’s history, anything could trigger defensiveness.
Approaching a dog’s food or toys, especially while the dog is eating or playing, could also end in bites or snaps. This behavior is known as resource guarding, and some dogs exhibit these tendencies more than others. Certain dogs even guard their owners and may become defensive if they perceive a threat to their person, which to a dog, a simple hug or playful nudge could be perceived as such.
Injuries from Dog Bites
The force of a dog’s bite, which is measured in pounds per square inch (psi), will impact the severity of any injuries suffered. The average dog has a bite force of about 230-250 psi, which is about twice the bite force of the average human. The force of a dog bite is enough to cause many potential injuries.
Scarring and Disfigurement
If a dog bite breaks the skin, the wound is likely to bleed and may even require stitches. Serious dog bites often leave permanent scarring and can even cause disfigurement, which can negatively affect a person’s self-esteem and confidence for the rest of their life. For people whose careers are wholly or partially dependent on their appearance, such as modeling or acting, scarring from a dog bite may impact their earning capacity or even make it impossible to find work.
Infections Caused by Dog Bites
Once a dog’s teeth enter the skin, there is high a chance of infection, and even potentially rabies, being transmitted through the dog’s saliva. Serious infections caused by a dog bite can lead to the loss of a limb.
Crush Injuries or Broken Bones
Crush injuries occur when a part of the body is squeezed or crushed between two objects. A dog’s jaws can apply enough force to cause a crush injury, especially if the dog hangs on for more than a few seconds. Bones can easily break under this kind of pressure. A bone crush injury that doesn’t heal correctly can have debilitating effects that last for the rest of a dog bite victim’s life.
Mental Trauma or Post-Traumatic Stress
A dog attack can permanently change a person’s life and the way they view animals. Someone who was once an enthusiastic dog lover may develop mental trauma or even PTSD after suffering a dog bite. They may be permanently fearful around dogs and even face difficulty going out in public for fear of encountering another dangerous dog.
A degloving injury occurs when the skin is peeled or ripped off the layers below or even right off the bone. A fingertip severance is a degloving-type injury.
How Can a Dog Bite Affect Victims Down the Road?
Dog bites can leave lasting trauma, both physical and mental, and affect a person’s life and career for years to come. Especially in the case of a severe attack, a dog bite victim may deal with permanent injuries or chronic pain.
If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog and are facing permanent or long-lasting injuries and losses, consider speaking with the Texas dog bite attorneys of Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. about your options for recovery.