A dog bite injury is a top reason for children going to the emergency room in New York. In 2018, 89.7 million dogs were pets in the US. In 2020, about 50% of households had at least one dog. Most children who suffer dog bite injuries are under nine years of age. An animal attack can have psychological effects on children and are a major public health concern.
Dog bite injuries and cost
The study focuses on dog bite injuries between January 1980 and March 2020. The list of animal attack injuries was from a chart tracked in Microsoft Excel. There was a 34% decrease in dog bite injuries among children between 2001 and 2017. The study covers people under 19. Dog bite injuries were about 2.5 million of the pediatric emergency room visits. Dog bite injuries cause over 100,000 emergency room visits and 10,000 hospital admissions for 2.5 days annually. In 2015, 66% of homeowner insurance liability claims were from dog bite injuries and cost over $570 million.
Dog bite injury characteristics and treatment
Children account for over 80% of all dog bite injuries, but children under six are about half of all cases. Children under six have a higher risk for severe injuries to the head, face or neck and may require surgery. There are various treatments for dog bite injuries, but surgery involving general anesthesia and closure with local anesthesia is the most common. Surgery is rare but most common in children under five.
Dog bite injury circumstances
The family pet is more likely to hurt a child under five while petting or playing with them. Often injuries start with the dog guarding food or toys. It’s more likely for an unfamiliar dog to attack a child over six. It’s hard to identify if breeds of dogs are more aggressive than others because most dogs have mixed genetics. There have been studies with specific breeds, but the overall underlying dog population isn’t available.
One way to decrease an animal attack is with better education for safe behavior around dogs. Children and parents that engage in preventive educational programs have safer home lives. Children older than four can learn basic knowledge about how to behave around dogs.