Types of Dog Bite Injuries - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites take a number of different forms and lead to a range of injuries. If you were attacked by a dog and bringing a suit against its owners, you need to know what kind of dog bite injuries you have so that you can explain your situation to the court. Here’s a look at the most common injuries, along with a few tips on what to do in each situation.


Abrasions refer to superficial injuries such as grazes and scrapes that don’t go past your epidermis. Usually, when you suffer abrasions due to a dog attack, there isn’t a lot of bleeding, but in severe cases, you may experience scarring. Typically, these injuries can be treated at home, but you may want to seek medical attention to ensure you don’t have any infections or complications. Additionally, medical records can be essential if you bring forward a lawsuit.


Lacerations are deep cuts or tears in the skin. They go past the epidermis and into the muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels of your body. Often, these wounds are marked by uneven, zig-zig patterns and excessive bleeding. To treat lacerations from a dog attack, you need medical attention and stitches. Do not try to close these wounds on your own with skin repair tape. That can lock in infections and create an even worse situation.


Punctures happen when the dog’s teeth pierce or puncture your skin. Although these wounds can be much smaller than lacerations, they tend to be deep. That heightens the risk of infection, so medical attention should be sought even if the bleeding isn’t profuse.


Approximately, 10 to 15% of dog bites lead to infections. Often, infections come from bacteria in the dog’s mouth, but they can also arise from germs or bacteria on your skin. That’s why it’s always important to clean your wounds. You should also be aware of the signs of infection, which are pain, redness, swelling, and pus. In some cases, the site of the infection may feel warm to the touch. If you see any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional right away. They should be able to give you antibiotics to counteract the infection.


Typically, the worst infection you can get from a dog bite is rabies. Worldwide, there are about 50,000 deaths per year due to rabies. Luckily, that risk is relatively minimal in the United States, but if an irresponsible dog owner is allowing their dog to run wild and bite people, they probably aren’t that responsible about vaccinations either.

After getting bit, try to find out if the dog has a rabies shot. If the dog is not vaccinated or you can’t find out for sure, head to the emergency room immediately. They can give you special treatments that prevent rabies from developing.

Also, be aware that rabies symptoms may start in a day or two after the dog attack, but they may also take over a year to show up. Usually, the first symptom is tingling around the wound. Then, you may feel confused and aggressive. You may experience muscle spasms, paralysis, difficulty speaking, and sensitivity to bright lights and sounds as well.

Additional Resources:

Rabies 101


Although not as common as rabies, tetanus also can occur after a dog bite. Generally, this doesn’t come from the saliva of the dog but rather from the skin flora of the victim or the environment. If you’re worried about this risk, ask your doctor to screen you for tetanus, and update your shot.

Crushing Injuries

Crushing injuries usually occur in attacks involving large dogs. Large dogs can exert a tremendous amount of force with their jaws that can crush, break, or fracture your bones, while also injuring your muscles and soft tissues. Sadly, many dogs have even been known to completely crush the heads of babies, and that’s why infants make up about 12% of dog bite related fatalities.


Avulsion means ripping or tearing something away, and these injuries occur when the dog rips skin or tissue away from your body. For instance, if a dog completely or totally rips your ear off your head, that is an avulsion injury. These injuries are very serious. They typically require reconstructive surgery, and they can lead to lifelong scarring or other issues.


Whether you have an avulsion, a laceration, or even just some deep abrasions, you may face scarring. To reduce the long-term effects of scarring, your doctors may be able to do skin grafts or use laser therapy. Extensive scarring can be embarrassing and socially debilitating, and in these cases, you may want to talk with a dog bite attorney about compensation for your pain and suffering.

Injuries from Familiar Dogs

If your own dog attacks you, the injuries are often different than the injuries you receive from strays or other people’s dogs. As people tend to be very close to their pets, they often receive bites on their faces or necks. Unfortunately, if your own dog attacks you, you usually can’t hold anyone else liable for your injuries.

Injuries from Other Dogs

In contrast, the most common injuries from other dogs tend to occur on your hands. This often happens when people reach their hand out to a strange dog to let them sniff it. The exception is with children. Due to their short stature, children often suffer facial wounds from both strange and familiar dogs.

Nerve Damage

If the bite extends into the nerves, you may experience nerve damage. Depending on the extent of the injury, this can lead to temporary loss of function or permanent loss of ability in that part of your body. In extreme cases, nerve damage can cause permanent paralysis.

Death from Dog Attacks

Finally, some dog attacks can lead to death. There were 279 deaths due to dog attacks between 1979 and 1994. That’s approximately 18 per year.

If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation. You may also be entitled to compensation if your loved one has been killed by a dog. For a free case evaluation, contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today.