One of the scariest times in my life was when I realized that I had no way of escaping an attacking dog. It latched onto my leg and bit hard. I was almost knocked over. Blood came to the surface and when the dog’s teeth broke the skin of my leg. The owner ran out and pulled her dog off of me. At first, I didn’t even know that the dog had broken skin. It was painful, but I expected that. It wasn’t until a few hours later, that I became concerned about a possible break in the skin.
Sure enough, I had a significant injury that required a professional to look at. I didn’t think that it was a big deal. Boy was I wrong. I’ve been chased by dogs before and even had a little mouthing. But it litterally took a few years, not to instinctively jump back whenever a dog got too close.
These type of attacks can happen from domestic dogs, essentially pets, and feral dogs or free-ranging dogs. Feral dogs can also be called wild or stray dogs.
On average, in the 1980’s and 1990’s there was 15-17 fatalities each year in the United States. That number has increased to 25-26 during the years 2000 to 2010.
Most attacks, just over 50% happen on the property of the owner and three-quarters are done from a pet of a friend or family.
There is a considerable amount of arguments and debates on whether a certain breed of dog may be more prone to attack. I will not spend any time on this area other than to say, any dog can attack. If we, the dog owners, cause things like neglect or dog fighting, a higher risk of being attacked and bitten is present.
A dog bite
When a dog attacks, skin can be broken. Skin is a protective barrier, and when penetrated or broken, the risk for infection and diseases increase dramatically.
Initially pain occurs from damaged skin, muscles, tendons, and even bones is usually expected. The severity of damage can be surprising. Broken tissue can cause significant bleeding. In some cases, surgical repair must be done to re-correct the damage done by the traumatic injury. Dogs have very powerful jaws, damage can be intense. Bone can be broken by dogs.
The Parvovirus, also known as the rabies virus, can be transmitted through bite. This type of virus can also be seen in wolves and foxes. It is much less often seen in cats. Other types of parovovirus can been seen in mice, rats, pigs, and other animals.
Bacterial infection is probably the top risk when a dog bite has occurred outside of muscle and tissue damage. Bacteria from the mouth can cause serious infection inside the skin. Subsequent redness, oozing of the wound, swelling, and pain could indicate a bacterial infection.
Stiches closing the wound may not always take place due to the risk of additional bacterial problems.
Osteomyelitis is when bacteria infection travels into the bone. Loss of bone mass and effectiveness can be seen. In serious cases, this can become life threatening.
Remember to be careful around dogs. Too much attention, playing or even naivety can result in a serious consequence. Not all dogs bite, and actually most don’t. But if a bite does occur, seek medical treatment as needed. Don’t just believe that dogs mouth’s are extremely clean. Bacteria into your skin can be a huge problem. Redness, swelling, pain may indicate a worsening infection. Be safe and alert around dogs.