The Most Common Complications From Dog Bites

Dog bites are more common than many people realize and can lead to serious health complications. A 2024 study of Missouri residents found that dog attacks caused an average of 101 emergency room visits per 100,000 residents between 2010 and 2015. These numbers highlight the potential severity of a dog bite, impacting your physical and mental well-being.

Understanding the possible complications from dog bites and what to do if you’re attacked can help you get the care you need. If you are injured by a dog in Missouri, our Missouri dog bite lawyers at Cofman Townsley can help you hold the owners responsible for your injuries and protect your rights.

Understanding and Treating Infections From Dog Bites

One of the most common complications from dog bites is infection. Dogs’ mouths harbor bacteria that can be harmful when introduced into a wound. Common infections include cellulitis, staph, and strep infections.

Symptoms of an infection include redness, swelling, warmth around the bite area, pus discharge, and fever. If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical care promptly. Treatment typically involves antibiotics to combat bacterial infections and may require hospitalization in severe cases.

The Risk of Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Although rabies is rare in domestic dogs in the United States due to widespread vaccination programs, it remains a serious concern.

Signs a dog may have rabies include aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and paralysis. If you suspect an infected dog bit you, seek medical care immediately; treatment typically involves post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which includes a series of rabies vaccinations.

Nerve Damage and Other Physical Injuries

Dog bites can cause physical injuries, including nerve damage. The force of a dog bite can damage nerves, leading to numbness, loss of sensation, or even paralysis in the affected area. This type of injury is particularly concerning when the bite occurs on the hands or face, where nerves are more densely packed.

In addition to nerve damage, dog bites can cause deep lacerations, broken bones, and damage to tendons and muscles. These injuries often require surgical intervention to repair and can lead to long-term complications if not treated appropriately.

Scarring and disfigurement are other serious consequences of dog bites, especially when the bites occur on visible body parts like the face, neck, or hands. Scars can be painful and require multiple surgeries or cosmetic procedures to reduce their appearance.

The Psychological Effects of Dog Bites

For many victims, scarring is not just a physical issue but can also affect their emotional well-being and self-esteem. One study found that animal bites caused 10% of facial soft tissue injuries, with dog bites making up 90% of these injuries.

Victims, especially children, may experience anxiety, fear, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a dog bite. These psychological effects can impact their daily lives, making interacting with dogs or even leaving the house difficult. Counseling and psychological support are often necessary to help victims recover from these traumatic experiences.

Practical Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

If a dog bites you or someone you know, take the following steps to ensure proper care and documentation for a personal injury claim:

  1. Wash the Wound: Immediately wash the bite wound with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection.
  1. Apply Antiseptic: Use an antiseptic solution such as hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound thoroughly.
  1. Seek Medical Care: Even if the bite seems minor, seek medical attention to assess the need for stitches, antibiotics, or rabies prophylaxis.
  1. Report the Incident: Report the incident to St. Louis Animal Control or your local animal control authorities.
  2. Document the Incident: Keep detailed records, including photos of the wound, medical reports, and any communications with authorities. This documentation can be crucial for legal purposes.

Work With Cofman Townsley for Legal Support

The medical and legal aftermath of a dog bite can be overwhelming. At Cofman Townsley, our experienced legal team is ready to assist if you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite in Missouri.

Having seen first-hand the physical and psychological damage caused by dog bites, we are committed to ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can assist.