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Even though dogs make excellent companion animals, dog bites occur frequently. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are nearly 5 million dog bites in the country every year. While avoiding aggressive dogs is a good way to stay safe, you may still find yourself on the receiving end of a dog bite.

If a dog bites you, keep in mind that bite injuries are not always skin deep. Some bites leave victims with life-altering injuries. Here are four possible complications from a dog bite.

  1. Infection

Canine saliva is full of potentially harmful bacteria, such as staphylococcus and tetanus. Even if you receive medical care, bacteria may lead to an infection near the bite wound. Furthermore, not all aggressive dogs are healthy animals. If the dog that bites you has rabies, norovirus or another ailment, the animal may transmit the disease to you. Your medical treatment for these diseases is likely to be long and painful.

  1. Fractures

While it is possible for a dog bite to cause a bone fracture, most bites do not break bones. Still, when trying to flee the scene or fight off the attack, you may inadvertently fracture your fingers, arms or legs. Depending on your age and overall health, recovering from a fracture may require extensive time and rehabilitation.

  1. Nerve damage

Your body has trillions of nerves that send signals to your brain. In an animal attack, many of these nerves are vulnerable to injury. If a bite damages essential nerves, you may lose the ability to control parts of your body.

  1. Scars

Your physical appearance is an integral part of you. If a dog bite leaves you with scars to your face, arms, legs or other body parts, you may experience a variety of mental health consequences. These may have ramifications for all aspects of your life, including your personal relationships and employment.