Dog bites or dog attacks are attacks on humans by feral or domestic dogs. With the close association of dogs and humans in daily life (largely as pets), dog bites – with injuries from very minor to significant – are extremely common.
There is considerable debate on whether or not certain breeds of dogs are inherently more prone to commit attacks causing serious injury (i.e., so driven by instinct and breeding that, under certain circumstances, they are exceedingly likely to attempt or commit dangerous attacks). Regardless of the breed of the dog, it is recognized that the risk of dangerous dog attacks can be greatly increased by human actions (such as neglect or fight training) or inactions (as carelessness in confinement and control).
Significant dog bites affect tens of millions of people globally each year. It is estimated that two percent of the US population, from 4.5–4.7 million people, are bitten by dogs each year. Most bites occur in children. In the 1980s and 1990s the US averaged 17 fatalities per year, while in the 2000s this has increased to 26. 77% of dog bites are from the pet of family or friends, and 50% of attacks occur on the dog owner’s property. Animal bites, most of which are from dogs, are the reason for 1% of visits to an emergency department in the United States.
Attacks on the serious end of the spectrum have become the focus of increasing media and public attention in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
A person bitten by an animal potentially carrying parvovirus or rabies virus should consult a medical care. An animal bite may also cause serious bacterial infections of soft tissues or bone (osteomyelitis) which can become life-threatening if untreated.
Rabies results in the death of approximately 55,000 people a year, with most of the causes due to dog bites.
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