Man’s best friend? Severe dog bite injuries have increased

Dog bites that send humans to the hospital are on the upswing, according to new data. The number of people admitted to the hospital because of dog bites grew by 86% from 1993 to 2008 -- 5,100 cases in 1993 and 9,500 in 2008.

An average of 866 people go to a hospital emergency room daily and an average of 26 are admitted for their injuries, based on the 2008 data, said statisticians from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The analysis found that seniors and young children (especially those ages 5 to 9) are the most likely to be seriously injured by dog bites, and people in rural areas made four times as many emergency department visits for bites compared with urban dwellers.

Almost half of those hospitalized needed treatment for skin infection and 58% needed a procedure, such as stitches, skin grafts or wound debridement. The average cost for a dog-bite hospitalization? An average of $18,200.

Americans own about 77.5 million dogs. Each year, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten, although most of the bites are not serious.


The data can be found in the report “Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008.”

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