How Serious Is It? When to Be Concerned About a Dog Bite | Scott Goodwin Law

How Serious Is It? When to Be Concerned About a Dog Bite

by / Friday, 24 June 2022 / Published in Dog Bites
Angry dog snarling.

Dog bites are more common than you might realize. According to the CDC, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. But you have to think about that number in context of how popular dogs are as pets. According to data cited by The Zebra, over 76 million dogs were owned in the United States in 2018, which works out to approximately 40% of Americans owning at least one dog. 

No matter what lengths people will go to find a “safe breed” dog to bring home as a family pet, the simple fact is that any dog can bite, regardless of what breed it is or whether it’s a big dog or a small dog. Even the friendliest, most well behaved dog can potentially lash out in certain circumstances. 

As common as dog bites are, not all of them are severe enough to require a trip to the emergency room. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approximately 1 in 5 people need medical attention following a dog bite. So how do you know if you need medical attention for a dog bite? 

Dog Bite Types

Whether or not a dog bite requires medical treatment largely depends on what type of dog bite you experienced. 

  • Level 1: A bite where the dog’s teeth don’t come in contact with the skin
  • Level 2: A bite where the dog’s teeth do make contact with the skin, but the skin isn’t broken
  • Level 3: A single bite creates 1-4 shallow puncture wounds on the skin
  • Level 4: A single bite creates 1-4 puncture wounds, with at least one of them being deep
  • Level 5: Multiple bites occur, resulting in some deep puncture wounds
  • Level 6: An attack results in death

Home Treatment or Doctor?

If a bite is Level 1, 2 or 3, it can likely be treated at home with simple measures like washing the bite area and keeping an eye out for signs of infection. If a dog bite resulted in blood being drawn, apply a bandage and pressure to the wound. If bleeding continues for more than 15 minutes, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. 

It’s also important to see a doctor if you aren’t up-to-date on your tetanus vaccine, are unfamiliar with the dog who bit you and can’t locate the dog’s owner, or if you have a compromised immune system. You should also see a doctor if you tried treating the wound at home, but it later started showing signs of infection. 

Contact a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer

The effects of a serious dog bite can last a long time. Very often, dog bite victims experience both physical and psychological damage as a result of the attack. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, don’t hesitate to contact a dog bite lawyer. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in helping Michigan dog bite victims and can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to find out how we can help.