Bermant Reconstructive Plastic Surgery
dog bite prevention and reconstruction plastic surgery

Dog Bite Prevention

Dog bites can cause much deformity. Learn several situations to lessen the chance of dog bite injuries.

Michael Bermant, MD
Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery

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Dog Bite Prevention

bandaged child - dog bite prevention Dog bites result in approximately 44,000 facial injuries in US hospitals each year. This represents between 0.5% and 1.5% of all emergency room visits. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite. Male patients slightly outnumber females in most studies. 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.
Almost $165 million is spent treating dog bites in the United States for the estimated 800,000 dog bite related injuries requiring treatment each year. 70% of dog bites occur on the owner's property.
Type injuries cuts
abrasions tissue loss & avulsion
lacerations crushing wounds
punctures fractured bones

These wounds potentially result in disfiguring scars. The central target area for the face includes the lips, nose, and cheeks. Dog bites are becoming more common with a 37% increase in medically treated cases between 1986 to 1994 (dog population rose less than 2%)

Dog human interaction

The vast majority of bites are by pet dogs and happen when people are engaged in socially acceptable 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. In one study of an urban emergency room of children less than 4 years old, 47% were bitten by their dog and 90% were bitten at home. When broadly defining provocation, almost half of all injuries are provoked. Children aged 5 or younger are more likely to provoke animals.

Hounds are less likely to injure than working or sporting breeds. Puppies are also more likely to injure than an adult dog.

relative chance of dog bite by breeds

There are social trends towards training and keeping dangerous animals. Aggressive guard dogs are trained for self protection. While any dog can bite, the top biting breeds include:

  • Pit Bulls
  • Rotweilers
  • German Shepherds
  • Huskies
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Chow Chows

Veterinary practitioners recognize aggressive behavior of dogs toward children as a correctable entity. Counter conditioning and desensitization will change this behavior. However, the first demonstration may result in a devastating injury.

Treatment

We must protect the patient from infection, tetanus, and possibly rabies after an investigation of the animal. Repair of the wounds may require simple closure, removal of injured tissue, and reconstructive surgery. Underlying nerve and bone injuries may need repair. Sometimes completely severed tissue can be replaced as a graft or reattached with microsurgical repair of tiny blood vessels. Sometimes we have to move other tissue into the defect to close or recreate the disfigured feature. Such reconstruction may need multiple operations over several years.

Scars are inevitable. Scars may be improved but never completely removed. Other techniques used to improve the deformity include dermabrasion (sanding of the skin), pressure scar modification, and camouflage make-up. None of this is very much fun for the patient or the family. Patients frequently become nervous of dogs. Parents often suffer from shame and guilt and suffer more than the child.

Characteristics of biting dogs

crying dog 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 (67%).

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 possibly the weather.

Dangerous situations

  • invading dog's territory
  • threat to dog's family
  • threat to dog
  • jealous dog

You must be careful to avoid:

  • approaching or bending over dogs especially if they are lying quietly
  • approaching them immediately after entering their territory
  • teasing or waking them
  • playing with them till they become overexcited

Ten rules DO NOT

  1. hold your face close to a dog
  2. allow dogs to roam unleashed
  3. approach a strange dog
  4. tease a dog
  5. startle a dog
  6. disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies
  7. leave a small child and dog alone
  8. omit vaccination of a dog
  9. leave a dog alone with strangers
  10. ignore the warning signals of aggressive behavior

A Threatened Dog Often Bites

  • Never run from or scream at a dog.
  • Do not challenge the dog by staring it right in the eye.
  • Be as still as possible if approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball and stay still.

Children

  • Tell an adult if you see a stray dog or one acting strangely.
  • If a dog bites you, tell an adult RIGHT AWAY!

Dog Owners CAN Help

  • Spay / neuter your dog, this can calm them down.
  • Train your dog in obedience.
  • DO NOT play aggressive games with your dog.
  • Keep your dog healthy, an unnoticed injury can make a dog aggressive.
  • Follow leash laws.
  • Unsocialized dogs that are left outside are more likely to bite than those maintained as house dogs.

More Bite Injury Pages

Dog bite Prevention

Dog bites of Lip and Reconstruction Photographs (graphic)

Dog bite Injury Face Repair / Reconstruction Photos (graphic)

Camel Bite Reconstruction

Find books about dog bite prevention from Barnes and Noble

Bite Injuries Reconstructive Surgery Chat, Forum, and Discussion Bulletin Boards

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Bermant Dog bite plastic surgery repair reconstruction and prevention

See just how terrible dog bite injuries can be and how reconstruction can restore the deformity. Warning some of these injuries are graphic.

Bermant Plastic Cosmetic Hand and Reconstructive Surgery
PlasticWeb

Humane Society of the US Dog bite prevention

Bibliography of Articles on Dog Bites and Community Approach Dog Bite prevention - National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Dog Attack - WorldWide Legal Info Assoc

Dog Bite Alternatives - Decrease dog bite injuries through education.

Dog Bite Links - Dr. P's

Dog bite prevention in the spotlight - American Veterinary medical Association

Dog Bite Prevention - Dog Scouts of America

Dog Bite Study - Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program

Dog Bites various articles - Meisterfeld, Ph.D.

Doggone Crazy - Dog Bite Prevention Board Game. Learn about dog behavior and communication.

ER Dog Bite Information from Australia

Fatal Dog Attacks Sacks, MD

Family Paws Dog Bite Prevention

HSUS - Resources for Dog Bite Prevention

It's summer time, and the dogs are biting - CNN

Kids and Dogs: A Common Sense Approach Understanding dog bites: how they occur and how how to prevent them

Peterson Law Offices, PC What To Do After a Dog Bite

Texas 1996 Severe Attack Surveillance Summary

Why Dogs Bite A Guideline for Children - Denver Dumb Friends League

Law

Dog Bite Law - Attorney Kenneth Phillips

Law and Dogs - About.com

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 92

 


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This page last updated on: March 27, 2013

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