Child victims of dog bites treated in emergency departments: a prospective survey

Eur J Pediatr. 2003 Apr;162(4):254-8. doi: 10.1007/s00431-002-1130-6. Epub 2003 Feb 6.


The study was conducted to determine the characteristics of child victims of dog bite accidents. Pediatricians and nurses prospectively collected standardized information on all child victims of dog bites brought in for treatment to six hospital emergency departments (three urban university teaching hospitals and three rural hospitals). One hundred completed questionnaires were collected and analyzed. The frequency of dog bites brought for care to the emergency departments was equivalent to about one-quarter of all road traffic casualties and one-third of burns at home. Of the 100 victims, 65 were bitten at home, and 35 in a public place. The bite accidents that occurred at home concerned children with a median age of 5 years, who were without adult supervision at the time of the accident. The children who were bitten by dogs in public places had a median age of 9 years. For 77 bites, the dog was not familiar to the child. Based on the history, it appeared that 56 out of 65 accidents at home and 11 out of 35 in public places resulted mainly from the children's or adult's behavior.

Conclusion: To reduce the frequency of dog bites both at home and in public places, education could be the preventive measure with the highest priority. Out of 100 accidents, 67 children might not have been bitten had they and their parents been adequately educated on safe conduct towards dogs.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Bites and Stings / classification
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Bites and Stings / therapy
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dogs*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Police / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Veterinarians / statistics & numerical data