Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites are serious personal injuries.  The animal’s jaws create crushing injuries that can break bones, rip muscles, tear ligaments, burst blood vessels and shred nerves. A dog’s teeth make lacerations and puncture wounds that cause severe and permanent damage to human skin.

Dog bite injuries are unique types of personal injuries for two reasons.

  1. An animal is literally using its teeth to tear, puncture, and rip the flesh, muscle and tissue from its victim’s body.  This sounds horrible, but it accurately describes the violent and graphic nature of the pain a dog bite victim suffers in an attack.  The damage inflicted by the teeth creates wounds that are sometimes difficult for doctors to properly suture.
  2. Dogs, like all animals, carry bacteria in their saliva.  Some of these bacteria may be harmful to the victim and cause a disease like rabies.  At the very least, the risk of infection is high due to the presence of the dog’s saliva and the wound’s exposure to the environment.  Quite literally, the victim’s skin is no longer able to keep viruses, bacteria, and dirt out.

Scarring From Dog Bites and Scratches

Any time a person’s skin is torn, there is a chance that a scar will form when the wound heals. A scar is a patch of skin that is thicker and a different color than the rest of your skin that grows at the location where the skin grew back together. When a dog attacks, its teeth and claws leave lacerations (cuts and gashes) on the skin that often need stitches to close. Not every person scars the same, as it is dependent on skin color, location of the wound, and a general tendency to scar. However, the deeper the cut or gash, the more likely the bite will leave a scar. If stitches are required, they tend to minimize the size and discoloration of the scar, but a scar is almost guaranteed.

A dog will also leave puncture wounds on the skin when it bites. The animal literally punctures your skin with its incisor teeth. Such wounds are circular in shape and can go very deeply into the muscle and teeth of your body. You may also notice bruising, redness and swelling from where the dog bit down. More often than not, doctors will not suture or close a puncture wound because they are highly susceptible to infection. In fact, the doctor may use a scalpel to cut back the skin around the edge of the wound, making the hole bigger (debridement). This is done help discourage infection and prevent an abscess from forming. This also means the victim is left with large, circular scars for the rest of their life.

Both lacerations and puncture wounds from dog bites may require plastic surgery to help minimize the scarring. Plastic surgeons can also perform scar revision surgery to address unsightly scars from a prior dog bite.

Infection Risk After A Dog Bite

Any time the skin is broken, a person is a risk to develop an infection. A dog’s mouth can contain a wide variety of different bacteria, and when the teeth tear into a victim’s skin the bacteria are transferred into the wound. Also, humans normally have bacteria on their skin – the lacerations and punctures from the dog bite allow the bacteria to enter the body. After an attack, a doctor needs to examine the wound, thoroughly clean dirt and bacteria from the wound, and potentially remove dead skin and tissue. It is common for your doctor to prescribe an oral antibiotic treatment to prevent infection and/or a topical antibiotic ointment.

It is important to clean the wounded area covered to prevent dirt and bacteria from entering your body; however, it is nearly impossible to completely prevent shield the wound from all bacteria. You need to monitor the wound for signs of infection: redness, swelling and pus or drainage. While dogs can carry rabies, and its immunizations should be checked, it is highly unlikely that you will need to worry about rabies. After a dog bite, there is a much greater risk of tetanus, Pasturella multocida, staph, or another infection.

Death from Animal Attack

Dog bites and animal attacks are almost always life changing events. Dogs tear flesh, rip off lips and fingers, and leave horrific scars. However, dog bites can also cause death. Granted, the vast majority of dog bites end with the victim in the emergency room, receiving stitches and trying to deal with the physical and emotional fallout of the attack. But a person can easily die from a dog bite. Depending on the size of the dog compared to the victim, the person may die during the attack, being mauled to death. Sometimes the person dies from blood loss from the wounds they sustained in the attack. More likely, a person dies from an infection caused by the dog bite. Anytime the skin is broken and the internal tissue exposed, your body is potentially exposed to bacteria and viruses that can kill a human being.

Children and elderly people are especially at risk from serious injuries from animal attacks.  Sadly, these attacks can lead to death, not just from the attack itself but from infection and other complications like heart attack, broken bones and respiratory issues.pensation claim and your claim against the dog owner for dog bites in Illinois.

How Should I Treat A Dog Bite ?

After you have notified the police and removed yourself from the area, the wound must be cleaned with soap and water as soon as possible.  You may be able to do this yourself, or it may require the skill of a trained medical professional.  The wound needs to be irrigated and possible derided to remove dead tissue and discourage infection.  Even after cleaning the wound, you should seek the professional opinion of a doctor or emergency room technician who can determine whether you need antibiotic medications, stitches/sutures, or plastic surgery.  Delaying treatment only increases your risk of scarring, infection and other serious complications from the dog bite injury.

Basic Wound Care for a Dog Bite

  • Use a clean cloth or bandage on the wound with pressure to stop any bleeding.
  • Keep the injured body part elevated above your heart.
  • Wash the bite carefully with soap and water.
  • Use a clean bandage to cover the area on your way to seek medical attention.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders regarding antibiotic ointment, medications, and changing your bandages.
  • Keep all of your follow-up appointments with your doctor, even if you feel the wound is healing well.