Americans own 73 million dogs, and many consider them a part of the family. They provide companionship, entertainment and protection.
But “man’s best friend” bites more than 4.7 million people a year. More than half of them are children. And every 40 seconds someone seeks medical attention for a dog bite. The annual cost of medical treatments for dog bites total $165 million.
Dog bites can leave you physically and emotionally scarred for life. But many are preventable.
As a reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon, I’ve seen my share of serious injuries from dog bites. While some bites—particularly those to the face, nose and eyelids—are severe enough to require plastic surgery, any dog bite can cause an infection or scarring.
While most adults are cautious around dogs, many young children aren’t. Fifty percent of children have been bitten by a dog by the time they reach the 12th grade.
While some breeds are more aggressive than others, it is important to be cautious around any dog you don’t know, and even your own dog.
It’s best to practice basic safety around all dogs and always supervise children while they play with dogs. The following tips can be used to teach a child how to prevent a dog bite:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not make eye contact with a dog.
- Do not growl at a dog.
- Do not run from a dog and scream; stand still, like a tree.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
If you are bitten by a dog, you should first find out if the dog has been vaccinated and then seek medical attention.
Those with serious and potentially disfiguring injuries may want to consult with a reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon. He or she will evaluate the wounds and determine the best options for treatment.
Treatment can include skin and tissue grafts to close or restore the disfigured area as well as repair or reattach damaged blood vessels. Reconstructive surgery can minimize the appearance of scars and we can also reduce scarring and improve deformity with dermabrasion and pressure scar modification.
Have you or someone you care for has suffered a facial wound as the result of a dog bite? Call 443-777-7900 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Aloor.