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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites result in medical care. The US population was approximately 328.2 million people in 2019. That means a dog bites one out of every 73 people.
It happens when you least expect it. It might be triggered or because something makes your dog anxious. It can be a traumatic experience for you, your dog, and the person who has been bitten.
Dog bites are a result of aggressive behavior and are something that can be controlled. Dogs can bite people and other dogs, which, if not resolved, can become extremely problematic.
Read on to learn about dog bite statistics in the US, why dogs bite, and what we can do to prevent bites.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Before we get into dog bite statistics, let us study why dogs bite. Dogs often are in stressful situations before they bite humans.
There is something that triggers them, and you should be aware of their triggers. Let us look at some of the things that might prompt a dog to bite another dog or human.
- They feel scared or threatened
- They are trying to protect their puppies if they are a mother
- They are trying to protect their owner if they feel their owner is being put at risk
- They are not healthy and do not feel well
- They are startled suddenly and lash out in fear
- They may get overexcited when playing and nip or bite
When we are training puppies, we make sure that early on, we train and use positive reinforcement to discipline our puppies so that they do not bite even when they are playing. Puppies can be trained as early as 10 weeks, and if needed, a small dog shock collar can be used when the puppy is 4 to 6 months.
This collar will emit small shocks that will act as reinforcement to indicate to your puppy to stop biting. The shock is minor and does not hurt the puppy. Initially, when these collars were made, the shocks were strong and would hurt the animal wearing them. Now with the advancement in technology, the shocks are more precise and are gentle.
These collars now have the option of turning off the shock and making the intensity less depending on the age of the dog.
What Are the Different Levels of Dog Bites?
Not all dog bites are the same. There are different levels of dog bites, and it depends on the severity. The severity depends on whether the skin is broken or not. In some dog bites, the skin is not broken, while in others, the bite might be quite deep.
The following are the different classifications of dog bites:
- Level 1: The dog’s teeth do not have contact with the skin
- Level 2: The dog’s teeth touch the skin, but there is no breakage of the skin
- Level 3: There are shallow wounds that are puncture wounds on the skin.
- Level 4: There are one to four puncture wounds from one bite, and at least one wound is very deep.
- Level 5: There are multiple bites, and some are deep puncture wounds. This usually is from a dog attack.
To assess whether you need immediate medical attention, it is best to call a medical professional and discuss your wounds. You may need immediate medical help if the wound is of level 3 to 5.
Which Dog Breeds Bite the Most?
So statistically speaking, we see that certain breeds bite more than others do. Pitbull and Pitbull Terrier are the breeds of dogs that are most responsible for dog bites.
Below are the top three breeds of dogs that have recorded the highest numbers of bites:
- Pitbull Mix
When looking at bloodlines, the following are the lines that statistically bite the most:
- 60% of dogs had Pitbull in their bloodlines.
- 7% had Rottweiler in their bloodlines.
- 4% had German Shephard in their bloodlines.
Statistics show that bites by Pitbulls have the highest morbidity rates. They also have the highest number of fatalities.
If we were to list the most aggressive dog breeds, we find that the Pitbull comes out on top, followed by the Bull Mastiff. Below is a list of the most aggressive breeds of dogs:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Bull Mastiff
- German Shepherd
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- Wolf Hybrid
If you were looking at owning a Pitbull, it would be a good idea to train the dog so that any behavior issues could be dealt with initially when the dog is a puppy.
If your Pitbull is a family dog that will be around children and other family members, then it is a good idea to have the dog go through training before it is brought into the house.
These dogs have gotten a bad reputation for not being social and easy to play with, but they can be trained. A dog obedience school is another option where your dog can be trained to interact with others. Some tips on how to raise a socially adapt Pitbull:
- Use positive reinforcements
- Teach your Pitbull to behave properly with other animals
- Train your Pitbull through dog sports
- Hire a trainer
- Consider Obedience School
Any dog can bite, big or small. Male or female, friendly or not. If a dog is provoked, it will bite. This is not breed-specific, so we should not single out a specific breed when we are discussing dog bites.
Which Dogs Have the Biggest Bite
Which dogs have the sharpest bite? Well, that depends on the breed. This is calculated as pounds per square inch or psi. When we look at the dogs that have the highest psi, we can see that those breeds that have been traditionally bred as guard dogs are those that have the deadliest bite.
The dog with the highest psi in regards to biting is the Kangal dog. Kangal dogs are Turkish guard dogs, and they are the most powerful dogs. These dogs have primarily been bred to protect sheep from large predators like wolves and jackals. Their bite has a psi of 743.
Other dogs that have dangerous bites include:
- Bandog- 730 psi
- Cane Corso- 730 psi
- Dogue De Bordeaux – 556 psi
- TosaInu – 556 psi
- Mastiff – 552 psi
- Caucasian Shepherd – 550 psi
- DogoCanario – 540 psi
Dog Bite Statistics for Pitbull’s and Large Dogs
As it is seen from the above statistics, it is clear that Pitbulls have a predominant percentage of dog bites. There are some interesting statistics when it comes to Pitbull’s and large dogs.
- 77% of all dog fatalities are bitten by Pitbull’s and Rottweilers, yet they are only 6% of the dog population
- Pitbull’s are 2.5 times more likely to bite specific areas of the body than other breeds of dogs
- Pitbull’s are responsible for 63% of ocular injuries and 60% of injuries
- Pitbull terriers are 31% more times likely to attack unknown people than other breeds
- Pitbull terriers are 48% more likely to attack without provocation than other breeds
- The US army has banned Pitbull from military housing due to their aggressive nature
- Between 2015 and 2017, 21% of Pitbull attacks resulted in criminal charges, and 75% of those were from Pitbull’s
- Attacks by Pitbull’s have a high morbidity rate than attacks from other breeds
Dog Bite Numbers in the US
When looking overall at the number of dog bites in the US, we find that currently, there are 4.5 million dog bites each year.
Some interesting facts about dog bites in the US:
- A bite occurs every 75 seconds
- 1,000 people seek medical help every day
- Each year 9,500 individuals are hospitalized for dog bites
- Since COVID-19, 300% increase in dog bite injuries per 1000 emergency department patients
- Over 50% of dog bites occur on the dog owners property
- 81% of dog bites are not fatal and cause no injury
- The chances that you will be bitten by a dog are 1 in 112,400 in the US
Which State Has the Most Number of Dog Bite Cases?
When looking at dog bite numbers in the US, we can see that two states overwhelmingly have the highest number of fatal dog bites compared to the other 50.
California and Texas have the highest number of fatal dog bites. Between 2010 and June 2021, the number of fatal dog bites in California was 48 and 47 in Texas.
This is still a very low number when looking at the time period of 11 years. During this time, below are the top five states with the highest number of fatal dog bites:
- California 48
- Texas 47
- Florida 31
- North Carolina 22
- Ohio 21
The Ratio of Victims that Require Medical Attention
Certain parts of the body are more bitten than others are by dogs. Statistics show that the legs and arms were parts of the body that were bitten the most. The head and neck were also bitten but less as compared to the arms and legs.
This makes sense as we try to protect ourselves from dogs and their jaws; we use our legs and arms. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one in five people bit by a dog requires medical assistance. Children are most likely to be bitten and require medical attention. Children who are bitten are most likely to be attacked by dogs that are familiar with them during everyday activities.
Dog Bites and Animal Liability Insurance
The financial impact of being bitten by a dog can be great, and therefore it may be worth it for you to get animal liability insurance.
Dogs are a major source of homeowners’ insurance claims. Animal liability insurance will provide you coverage in case your dog bites someone else. This is a third-party coverage and will cover bites that occur to other people but not yourself. If you do not have insurance, you are opening yourself to many risks that can be associated with your pet biting other animals or people.
Suppose you are walking your dog, and it bites someone. That person can potentially file a lawsuit against you, and you will then need to pay for legal fees as well as any settlement expenses that are decided as a result of that lawsuit.
This kind of insurance also covers other animals and not just dogs. It will also cover not only bites but also other incidents that may result in damage. For example, if your dog goes into the neighbor’s lawn and digs up their backyard, causing damage, this insurance will cover any damages that may result because of that incident.
Some insurance agencies will not cover specific breeds or dogs that are aggressive. If your dog has to wear a muzzle in public or has not been trained, it is possible that the insurance company will not cover you.
Most animal liability insurance does not cover:
- Any damage that is caused by the animal to you or members of your family in the case of physical injury
- Any damage that is caused by the animal in case of damage to your property or house
- It will not cover commercial animals such as breeding, farm, or show animals
- If law enforcement impounds your animal, then it will not cover the expenses incurred because of boarding,etc.
Dog Bite and Victim Numbers throughout the Years
In regards to dog bites and victims, a few interesting facts:
- Dog bites annually send about 316,200 people victims to the emergency department per year. That is 898 per day.
- More than 28,000 surgical procedures involving reconstructive techniques were performed in 2015.
- Each year about 75,000 dog bite victims require medical care.
- Persons who are aged 16 years or more received 16, 476 bites that were work-related in 2001.
- In 2012 5,900 post office personal were bitten.
- The fifth most common reason to visit the emergency room is being bitten by a dog.
- 33% of all paid homeowners liability claims were dog bites in 2017. This was a total of $700 million.
- The cost for hospital stays for dog bite injuries was an average of $18,200, which was 50% higher than the average stay for other injuries.
Financial Impact of Dog Bites
Dog attack victims in the US suffer monetary loss. This amount is about $1 billion a year. The average cost of any medical cares an average amount of $18,200, which is about 50% higher than the average cost of other injuries.
These injuries have an impact on private insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid. These incidents also increase costs in regards to homeowner’s insurance liability. In 2017 dog, related injuries cost these companies about $686 with an average claim of $37,051.
Other costs that are associated with dog bites include community expenses that are intangible and sometimes cannot be valued. For example, community intangible costs may include the following:
- The cost spent on volunteers and community members who spend time on animal-related issues
- Deterioration of relationships between neighbors and community members that sometimes cannot be valued
- Building an appropriate medical support system for the community
- Animal shelter support for unwanted pets
- Concerned community members in regards to children safety
- Homeowner insurance costs within the community
From the above, it is clear that dog bites do not just affect dog owners and those who are a victim to them. It can have repercussions throughout the community. It is in everyone’s best interest to prevent them and take measures to create a system to deal with them effectively.
Steps that can be taken as a community to deal with dog bites could be:
- Identify dog bite issues in the community
- Work with other members of the community, including media and community groups
- Get community support
- Research past dog bite incidents in the past by looking at old media reports
- Identify funding sources
- Study current legislature in regards to dog bite-related issues like leash laws etc.
What to Do If a Dog Bites You
After a dog has bitten you, the first thing you should do is assess your wound. If the wound is of a level of 3 to 5, you may need to seek medical attention right away.
To make sure an infection does not develop, it is a good idea to wash the wound with water and soap right away. If there is a great amount of blood, then you need to apply pressure so that the bleeding stops. You can apply pressure with a clean cloth.
Take the following steps if bitten by a dog:
- Clean the wound and apply pressure if the bleeding is excessive
- Washing the wound with soap and water will prevent infection
- Ask the dog owner for veterinarian records and if the dog is a stray, then call animal control
- Get a Rabies shot if required
- Wash your wound daily and check for infection
- If the wound turns yellow or has signs of pus, call a medical professional
When to Call a Medical Professional
If you are bitten by a dog in some cases, it is important to call a medical professional. This is, however not the case in all dog bites. If you are not sure if you would call a medical professional or not, you should consider the following questions:
- Did the bleeding stop after 15 minutes of pressure?
- Is your skin broken from the bite?
- Did a wild or stray dog bite you?
- Were you not able to obtain the vaccination record of the dog?
- Do you have a weakened immune system?
- Do you notice signs of infection?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you must seek medical attention right away. If the bleeding does not stop with pressure, then it is also important that you seek medical help immediately.
Rabies vaccinations must be given to prevent disease. In some cases, a medical professional may administer antibiotics to prevent infection.
What Should You Do with the Dog after it Bites You?
After a dog has bitten someone, you are usually in a state of trauma and not sure what the next step should be. You should remain calm and confine your dog to their crate or another room.
If you have been bitten by someone else’s dog, then you need to get in touch with the dog’s owner. It is the owner’s responsibility to provide you with the utmost up-to-date vaccination records so that you can share them with your medical professional this way; you will know if you need any sort of rabies vaccination shots.
If the dog has bitten one of your guests, you should be kind and sympathetic to your guest. You should provide all vaccination records to your guest and call professional medical help if the bite is severe.
If your dog has bitten more than once, then it may be a behavior issue that will need to be addressed. The best way to address behavior issues with dogs is to provide training to the dog. There are special canine behavior specialists. The behavior specialist will train the dog and address any aggression and hostility.
Most dogs can be trained by a canine behaviorist who can implement behavior modification training to help counsel the dog and address their aggressive behavior.
Each dog is different and requires a different course of action. Some behaviorists will apply the technique of having owners say ‘ouch’ or exclaim in pain when the dog tries to bite them.
Should I Get Rid of My Dog if it Bites?
This is something that many dog owners will contemplate after their dog bites someone else or bites someone in their household. It is important to note that any dog if provoked, can bite. We should always be looking at ways to prevent dog bites and ways to train the dog if it is showing aggressive behavior. Getting rid of your dog is not the solution if an incident like this occurs.
Animals that have bitten a person can be trained not to bite again. They just need to be trained professionally and at home; as an owner, you need to provide positive reinforcements. If you live with other household members, it is a good idea for everyone to undergo some basic simple dog handling techniques that will help to control aggressive behavior if your dog ever shows such signs.
Dog Bite Prevention
There are always two sides to every story, and the same goes with dog bites. There are things you can do to prevent a dog bite. Although in some cases, the attack may be unprovoked, there is always something that triggers a dog to bite. By nature, dogs are friendly animals, and it is just when circumstances arise a situation can be created where they feel threatened. It is at this time that they lash out and bite.
You can take the following steps when trying to prevent dog bites:
- If you come across an unfamiliar animal, then you need to be cautious. You need to remember not every dog is like yours. Some may not be as friendly, and you should always proceed with caution. Especially if you have small children.
- When you suspect the dog is about to attack, it is important not to panic and run. The old saying, ‘Never run from a dog,’ has some truth in it. A dog who sees someone running from them instinctively will run after them.
- If an unfamiliar dog comes near you, you mustn’t scream, run, or panic. You should also avoid eye contact and just remain motionless.
- If you see a mother dog taking care of her puppies or near her puppies, you should not approach the puppies or that dog. Mother dogs are very protective of their children, and they will attack anyone who they feel might be trying to harm their pups.
- If you see a dog sleeping or eating, it is best not to bother the dog at that time. The dog feels very vulnerable at this time, and if you approach the dog, you will be disturbing them.
- Always allow a dog to sniff you before you pet it. If you allow a dog to come close to you and they get familiar with your scent, they will feel more relaxed when you pet them.
- It is also a good idea to stroke dogs you are not familiar with under their chin and not on their head.
- If you come across a stray dog that is showing unusual behavior, it is a good idea to stay away from that animal and call it animal control.
- If you happen to be knocked over by a large dog, you just roll into a ball and remain motionless. You should cover your ears and neck with your hands so that you can protect yourself. You should remain calm and avoid eye contact.
- When roughhousing with your dog or playing with them, it is a good idea to never encourage aggressive playing. If you play them roughly, this will teach them that it is okay, and they will not be able to know the difference when someone else tries to interact with them. They may get used to this kind of interaction and assume this is normal.
- Spay or neuter your dog. Most dog bites are from dogs that are not spayed or neutered.
Factors You Should Consider Before Getting a Dog
- Dogs that have a history of aggression are not appropriate for homes with small children.
- You should research the breed and type of dog before you decide to bring one into the home.
- Talking to a veterinarian or pet trainer is a good idea if you are not sure what kind of dog you would like to have in your home
- Socialization of your puppy is key to training your dog on how to behave appropriately around other animals
- Spending time with your pet will also let you know if your pet has any aggressive tendencies
- Spay or neutering your pet is a good idea and can curb aggressive behavior
Dog Bites are a Serious Concern in the USA
When looking at dog bite statistics in the US, a few dominating facts become known. The states with the most bites that end up in fatalities are Texas and California, Pitbull’s are the most prone to biting humans, and since the onset of COVID-19, dog bites have increased by 300% per 1000 emergency department patients.
Dog biting is something that can be controlled with the right training and equipment, like the small dog shock collar that provides reinforcement when required. In additionto this dog, owners can hire a canine behavior specialist who can come to their homes and observe their dog. They can then suggest effective methods to train your dog.
It is a good idea to get animal liability insurance, which will protect you in case your dog bites someone or another animal. This insurance is especially important if you have a dog that has behavior issues or is of a breed that is prone to bite.
It is important that you research different kinds of dogs and breed before purchasing one. This way, you can learn about what characteristics different kinds of dogs have. Some dogs are more energetic than others, and some require more attention or socialization opportunities.
You will need to purchase a dog that best suits your schedule and needs. If you have small children, then you may prefer a smaller breed of dog as compared to a large dog. All of these things have to be kept in mind when choosing a dog for your family.
In the end, we can say that any breed of dog can bite if provoked. We should take measures to use positive reinforcement and train them in socializing with other pets and humans. We can take measures to prevent dog bites when are where are in public by following the tips and tricks that have been listed in this article.