Dog Bite-Related Hospitalizations Skyrocket Over Last 16 Years

More on PawNation: Dog Bite Prevention Week, dog bites, health study, hospitalization, kids and pets

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As we pamper our pets more and more, and pet training is an ever-increasing part of the cultural zeitgeist due to shows like "Dog Whisperer" and "It's Me or the Dog," you might think that our animals were growing tamer, more predictable and better behaved. But new research makes us reconsider that.

A study recently published by the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reveals statistics about dog bite-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Perhaps the most interesting data shows that visits requiring hospitalization increased a startling 86 percent over 16 years, from 5,100 in 1993 to 9,500 in 2008.

Despite a large and seemingly anomalous spike in 1995, these statistics represent a steady rise over the 16-year period.

Of course, the numbers represent only those dog bites that were severe enough to require patients to be admitted. While there were 9,500 dog bite hospitalizations in 2008, there were 316,200 emergency room visits due to dog bites. That breaks down to 866 emergency room visits and 26 hospitalizations each day, or only about 3 percent of ER visits necessitating hospitalization.

So what does this all mean? Well, there's no reason to stop calling the dog man's best friend. There are 77.5 million dog owners in this country, and only 4.5 million are bitten each year, with very few of those bites being serious. But because children represent the age groups most likely to wind up in the ER due to bites, make sure your kids know the proper way to approach and interact with dogs, and that your dog knows how to deal with children.

To learn more about staying safe, read these other Paw Nation articles: Dog Bite Prevention - 5 Ways To Protect Yourself and Your Family and How To Treat A Dog Bite.

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If DOGS are "man's best friend," I hope to heck I never come across "man's worst enemy!" Dogs are anything but "man's best friend." Not a day passes that a child somewhere in the US isn't attacked by the "family pet" and seriously injured. It's time Americans woke up, stopped listening to the dog freaks and started treating dogs like the animals they are. And a good beginning point would be to put the dogs OUTSIDE, where they belong. When dogs were kept outdoors, dog attacks on infants and toddlers were few and far between. When a child is injured by the so-called “family pet,” the parents should be prosecuted for child endangerment and lose custody of their child, or children.

April 10 2013 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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