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Dog Bites on the Rise

Muzzled Dog

According to a recent report published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in the 15 years between 1993 and 2008, serious dog bites -- bites requiring emergency room visits and/or hospital stays -- increased by a whopping 86 percent.

One of the report authors, Anne Elixhauser, a senior research scientist with AHRQ, points out the increase greatly surpassed population growth, and pet ownership rose only slightly during the same period.

In 2008, over 850 people a day showed up at hospital emergency rooms for treatment of dog bites.

Some additional statistics:

  • Seniors 65 and older and young children under five were the two groups most likely to be hospitalized with a dog bite.
  • People living in rural areas were four times as likely as city dwellers to go to the emergency room with a dog bite.
  • Over 40 percent of those hospitalized developed skin and underlying tissue infection from their bite injuries.
  • 22 percent were bitten on the legs or arms; 11 percent were injured on the head, neck or torso; the remainder had injuries ranging from broken bones to blood poisoning.
  • Nearly 60 percent of those hospitalized with dog bites needed procedures like sutures, wound debridement (removal of unhealthy tissue), or skin grafts.
  • The average cost per patient to treat a dog bite was over $18,000.