Infections & Diseases You Can Get from a Dog Bite

Infections & Diseases You Can Get from a Dog Bite

by / Friday, 06 September 2019 / Published in Dog Bites
Small dog viciously opening mouth toward human hands

Even if you don’t have a dog of your own, it’s still very easy to encounter dogs in your day-to-day life. According to the American Pet Products Association’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, 63.4 million American households own at least one dog, so there’s a very good chance you could run into dogs when you visit the homes of your friends or family members or just while taking a walk around your neighborhood.

With all those dogs around, it shouldn’t be surprising that dog bites are a very big problem in the United States. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States and over 800,000 of those people need medical treatment for dog bite injuries. When people think about dog bite injuries, they often think of wounds in the skin. But while dog bite wounds are absolutely a serious concern, it’s also important to not lose sight of the risk of infections and diseases that can come with dog bites. The CDC estimates that about 18% of dog bites become infected and some of those infections can be very serious.


Rabies is one of the most well-known types of diseases dog bites can transmit — and one of the most serious. Rabies affects the brain, making it a disease that’s almost always fatal once symptoms begin to set in. While rabies is an absolutely terrifying disease, the good news is that in the United States, it’s fairly rare for rabies to be transmitted through dog bites. Dog bites that cause rabies are more common in other parts of the world, but in the U.S., it’s more likely for rabies to be carried by animals like raccoons, bats, and skunks.

Pasteurella Infections

Pasteurella infections are a very common complication related to dog bites. Pasteurella is a type of bacteria that is often found in the mouths of dogs and if some of that bacteria is transmitted to a person through a dog bite, it can potentially cause problems like cellulitis. Cellulitis can be a very painful infection that can cause things like swelling and fever. If a person has a compromised immune system, they may face a higher risk of developing a more serious pasteurella infection.


If the dog that bites a person is carrying tetanus bacteria, there is a possibility that tetanus could be transmitted to the bite victim. Tetanus is another type of disease that is well-known, but rather rare in the United States. The CDC reports that only about 30 cases of tetanus are reported each year, but it’s most likely to occur in people who have fallen behind on their tetanus vaccines. If a person develops tetanus, it can result in problems like muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing, fever, and changes in heart rate.

MRSA & Other Staph Infections

People often think of staph infections as being a condition associated with hospital stays, but they can also be the result of dog bites. While many types of staph infections are pretty easy to treat, others can be more stubborn. Some research has suggested that MRSA infections related to dog bites are becoming more common and some types of MRSA cases can be difficult to treat.

If you were bitten by a dog and developed an infection or other complications as a result of your injury, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have lawyers who have worked with many Michigan dog bite victims just like you to help them get the compensation they need. Contact us today for help with your case.