Types of Bodily Injuries

EmergencyDog bites may result in one or more of the following injuries:

  • Abrasions
  • Lacerations
  • Punctures
  • Tissue loss and avulsion
  • Crush injuries
  • Fractured bones
  • Sprain / strain injuries
  • Scars
  • Infections such as rabies, cellulitis, C canimorsus infections

Victims of dog bite injuries to the face, especially children, should be examined for nerve damage and facial fractures. While the incidence of facial fractures from dog bite injuries is statistically low, physicians should not exclude the possibility of fractures resulting from dog attacks. (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “When Dogs Attack: Report illustrates the Importance of Examining Dog Bite Victims for Facial Fractures,” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, April 2002.) The article states:

  • In an overview of 16 dog bite cases, there were 27 facial fractures, with 87 percent of the cases occurring in children under the age of 16. Sixty-nine percent of the cases involved fractures of bones around the eye, the nose, or the jaw.
  • To rule out facial fractures, the authors agree that victims should undergo a computed tomographic (CT) scan in cases with a high degree of suspicion – when large breed dogs capable of crush-type injuries are involved.

Not only can dog bite injuries lead to painful lacerations and puncture wounds, nerve damage, fractures, serious infections, disability, and deformity, but death can occur as well. Between 1989 and 1994, 109 bite-related fatalities were reported, and 57 percent were in children younger than 10 years old. [Sacks JJ, Lockwood R, Hornreich J, Sattin RW. Fatal dog attacks, 1989-1994. Pediatrics 1996;97(6 Pt 1): 891-5.] (See Statistics.)

Death can result from infection. For example, C canimorsus infections are very rare but can be very dangerous. They can result in fever, malaise, myalgia, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dyspnea, confusion, headache, and skin rash. Disseminated intravascular coagulation develops in many patients. (J Blackman, MD, “Man’s Best Friend?”, J Am Board Fam Pract 11(2):167-169, 1998.)