Dog bites can cause serious injuries that often require medical treatment. While most wounds heal fully, bites have the potential to cause lasting damage if not managed appropriately.
If you get bitten by a dog, it is important to seek prompt medical care to treat and prevent complications from the bite.
Muscle and tendon injuries
Dog bites commonly cause injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments. The powerful jaws and sharp teeth of dogs can tear muscle tissue and damage tendons close to the skin’s surface. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, bruising and impaired mobility of the affected limb. Muscle injuries can range from minor tears to complete rupture of a muscle or tendon. These injuries often need immobilization and physical therapy to heal properly.
Fractures and chipped bones
The crushing force of a dog’s jaws can fracture bones and chip teeth. Fractures may occur in the limbs, fingers, toes and facial bones. Signs include severe pain, swelling, deformity, numbness, tingling and impaired mobility of the injured area. Fractures need prompt medical treatment which may involve splinting, casting or surgery. Chipped bones in the fingers, toes and face may also need surgical repair. With 45.3% of dog bites resulting in hand and arm injuries, this is a significant concern.
Deep bites that tear muscle can also damage peripheral nerves. This causes numbness, tingling or burning pain in the affected limb or digits. Nerve injuries can disrupt signals between the brain and muscles, leading to paralysis of the fingers or impaired hand function. Some nerve damage is temporary, but some injuries may be permanent if not repaired surgically.
Seeking prompt medical treatment for dog bites can help avoid long-term complications including infection, scarring and loss of function. Being aware of common injuries can help you get the care you need for the best outcome.