Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Dog Bite Research

Two new studies on dog bites have been reported recently.

A Review of 100 Dog Bite Cases in British Columbia - reported on CTV News
"Doctors at a B.C. hospital say children must be taught about the dangers of strange dogs, so that they stay out of harm's way and away from the operating table.
A group of doctors have reviewed more than 100 cases in which a dog bit a child.They found that children tend to get bit in the face and most often by a dog they know. In over half of the cases, the attacks are unprovoked."
We doubt that the statement that the bites were unprovoked is true. Dogs always bite for a reason and they warn in some way first. Sometimes the warning is very subtle and this is why Doggone Safe teaches children and parents how to read dog body language and understand the often subtle signs that dogs send when they are anxious and thus more likely to bite.

The study found that most of the bites were to the face and that most of the dogs that bit were known to the child. This is consistent with the findings from previous studies and underscores the need for parents to supervise, recognize the signs that a dog does or does not welcome attention from children and prevent interactions that could lead to a bite.

Most of the bites were to the face which suggests that the child's face was too close to the dog. Doggone Safe wants parents to teach children that dogs do not like hugs and kisses and that they should keep their face away from the face of a dog, even their own dog. Read our advice for parents.

In an interview Dr. Farrah Yau indicated that many children suffer from post traumatic stress disorder after a dog bite. Visit our victim support page for information about the importance of emotional counseling for children after a dog bite and how parents can help their child.

Holmquist L. and Elixhauser A. 2010. Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Statistical Brief #101.

This report considered data on emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations for dog bite from US healthcare databases.
"The estimates in this Statistical Brief are based upon data from the HCUP 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) and the 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS). Historical inpatient data were drawn from the 1993–2007 NIS. The statistics were generated from HCUPnet, a free, online query system that provides users with immediate access to largest set of publicly available, all-payer national, regional, and state-level hospital care databases from HCUP."
An article describing this study published in the New York Times said the following:
"The number of Americans hospitalized for dog bites almost doubled over a 15-year-period, increasing to 9,500 in 2008 from 5,100 in 1993, a new government study reports. The increase vastly exceeded population growth, and pet ownership increased only slightly during the same period, said the report’s author, Anne Elixhauser, a senior research scientist with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality."

Some key findings were as follows:

  • The average cost of a hospital stay for a dog bite related injury was $18,200, which is about 50% higher than the the average injury-related stay.
  • The number of dog bite related hospital stays increased from 1993-2008
  • The incidence of hospital visits for children was higher than for adults

Read the full report

Read the NewYork Times article about this report


  1. As one of those children, I am so supportive of a program that teaches kids about being safe with dogs. I was bitten twice as a child, by different dogs, and both times I had my face in theirs. That's why I am so cautious now with children and dogs. As a pet sitter and dog walker, I am extremely cautious with all my client's dogs too. Great post!

  2. This is very informative, but unfortunately many dog owners think that there dog would never harm anyone and let their guard down.

  3. What are you doing the week of May 16th? Join us for our Dog bite Prevention Challenge!
    cheers and thanks all, Teresa Lewin