What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Dog Bite?

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A dog attack can be one of the most gruesome and traumatic incidents for victims and bystanders. The nature of a dog attack can be highly psychologically scarring. It can also leave behind physical scarring and disfigurement. Even a minor dog bite could become infected and cause health complications. The Nebraska courts recognize a dog bite victim’s right to file a claim for compensation for the long-term effects of an injury.

long-term effects of a dog bite

Complications and Infections

It is critical to treat a dog bite injury immediately after it happens. Waiting can increase the risks of the bite festering and becoming infected. Bacterial infections are common with dog bite injuries due to bacteria living in the dog’s mouth. The victim needs to go to a doctor, urgent care center or hospital for prompt treatment. Dog bite treatment may include wound debridement to rid it of dirt and debris, flushing out the wound, administering antibacterial ointments and antibiotics to prevent infection, and bandaging the wound to encourage proper healing. A dog bite victim might have an infection if he or she notices certain symptoms.

  • Redness, especially in streaks
  • Swelling around the wound
  • Drainage, such as pus
  • Pain lasting longer than 24 hours
  • Trouble moving the injured part of the body
  • Warmth coming from the wound
  • Fever and night sweats

Any possible symptoms of infection require medical attention. Before leaving the scene of the attack, a victim should ask the pet’s owner if the dog is up to date on its shots. Without proper vaccinations, serious complications could arise from a dog bite injury, including rabies and tetanus. These are potentially deadly diseases in humans. Even if the dog does not transfer any bacteria, the victim could experience other long-term health consequences from a deep bite. These can include broken or splintered bones, nerve damage, and muscle damage. Going to a hospital can help prevent these types of long-term complications with adequate treatments.

Scarring and Disfigurement

Sadly, many dog attacks inflict wounds that permanently scar, disfigure or maim the victim. A serious dog attack can cause injuries such as lacerations, puncture wounds and avulsions, or the tearing away of skin. Some victims, especially children, suffer these injuries in visible and vulnerable places such as the face. Victims may require stitches, skin grafts, plastic surgery or surgeries to try to minimize the amount of scarring and disfigurement from the dog attack. The scars a victim has, however, can be permanent.

Psychological Effects

The long-term effects of a dog bite are not only physical. A dog attack survivor can also experience many lasting psychological effects. A common psychological outcome of a dog bite is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can come with symptoms such as nightmares, intrusive flashbacks, severe anxiety, fear, stress, depression and trouble sleeping. PTSD from a dog attack can affect both the victim and any bystanders who witnessed the incident – especially those who had personal relationships with the victim.

Another common psychological effect that could last long after the attack – in some cases, for the victim’s life – is a phobia of dogs. This is especially common in young children who survive traumatic dog attacks. Phobias can hinder a child’s enjoyment of life, leading to issues such as anxiety, nightmares, regression, mood swings, outbursts and emotional distress. The survivor of a dog attack might have a permanent phobia of dogs.

Recovering From a Dog Bite Injury

The survivor of a dog attack may be eligible for financial compensation for all the physical and nonphysical long-term effects of the dog bite injury. A dog bite injury lawyer in Omaha can help a victim with the legal processes involved in obtaining fair compensation. While a victim heals and receives treatment for physical and psychological damages, a lawyer can work hard to secure a full financial recovery. An award can pay for past and future dog bite complications.