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Department of Pediatrics

Evidence-Based Pediatrics Web Site

Some Dogs Are More Likely to Bite

Question

  • tAs pediatricians, is there any anticipatory guidance we can offer our families regarding the prevention of dog bites?

Clinical Bottom Lines

  1. Dog bites cause an estimated 585,000 injuries resulting in the need for medical attention yearly.
  2. Most frequent victims are children.  Among children, dog bites frequently involve the face, resulting in severe lacerations.
  3. Dog bites may cause infection.
  4. Dog bites may cause disability.
  5. Dog bites may incur substantial costs.


Summary of Key Evidence

  1. In one matched case-control study of 178 dog bites, biting dogs were more likely to be German Shepherd (adjusted odds ratio = 16.4, CI = 3.8 - 71.4) and Chow Chow (adjusted odds ratio = 4.0, CI = 1.2 - 13.7).1
  2. Compared with controls, biting dogs were more likely to be male (adjusted odds ratio = 6.2, CI = 2.5 - 15.1).
  3. Compared with controls, biting dogs were more likely to be un-neutered (adjusted odds ratio = 2.6, CI = 121 - 6.3).
  4. Compared with controls, biting dogs were more likely to reside in a home with > = children (adjusted odds ratio = 3.5, CI = 1.6 - 7.5).
  5. Compared with controls, biting dogs were more likely to be chained while in the yard (adjusted odds ratio = 2.8, CI = 1.0 = 8.1).
  6. Children aged 12 years and younger were the victims in 51% of the cases.

Additional Comments

  • Study had some problems:
      • Only 50% of potential eligible biting dog owners were able to be included.
      • Biting dogs included only if the victim sought medical attention.
      • Study only included biting episodes where non-family members were the victims.
      • Telephone questioning/survey study with increased bias.
      • Victim's role in the biting event not addressed.

Citation

  1. Gershman KA, Sacks JJ, Wrigth JC.  Which dogs bites?  A case-control study of risk factors.  Pediatrics 1994; 93(6):913-917.

CAT Author: Harriet Hadley, MD

CAT Appraisers: John Frohna, MD

Date appraised: September 13, 1999

Last updated April 27, 2003
Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
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