Pediatric Dog Bite Prevention: Are We Barking Up the Wrong Tree or Just Not Barking Loud Enough?

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The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate dog bite–related injuries and associated medical documentation and (2) to compare these results with a study of dog bites from the same institution 10 years prior.


Data were retrospectively collected from a pediatric emergency department from July 2007 to July 2011 for patients treated for dog bites. These data were then compared with data from the same institution from 10 years prior.


A total of 1017 bite injuries were treated (average, 254.25 bites/year), which represents a 25% increase compared with 10 years prior. Comparing the 1997 and 2007 to 2011 cohorts, patient demographics, bite rate among children less than 5 years old, rate of dog breed documentation, and setting of injury were similar. Dog breed was reported in 47% (95% confidence interval [CI], 40.2–53.9) and 41% (95% CI, 38.0–44.0) of cases, respectively, in the 2 cohorts. Bites to the craniofacial region were most common (face only reported for 1997: 43.2%; 95% CI, 36.4–50 versus 2007–2011: 66.1%; 95% CI, 63.2–69.0). In both cohorts, the child's home was the most frequent setting, accounting for 43% of bites (1997: 95% CI, 30.2–55.9 and 2007–2011: 95% CI, 39.3–46.7).


Pediatric dog bites continue to occur frequently, and the associated factors did not change over the 10-year period: young age of child, bites to the craniofacial region, and dogs familiar to the child. Although accurate medical documentation of dog bites is a prerequisite to develop effective prevention strategies, current medical documentation of dog bites may be misguided.

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