Pediatric Dog Bite Injuries in Central Texas

J Pediatr Surg. 2019 Jul;54(7):1416-1420. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2018.09.022. Epub 2018 Oct 31.


Purpose: Identify children at greatest risk for dog bite injuries and to provide injury prevention recommendations.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients aged ≤18 years treated for dog bite injuries from October 2011 to October 2016 was performed. Data collected included patient demographics, parental presence, time of injury, dog breed and ownership status, injury location and characteristics, need for operative intervention, and hospitalization.

Results: One-hundred and two patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean age was 5.84 years, and 43.1% were preschool-aged (2-5 years). Parental presence was reported in 43.6% of cases, and most attacks occurred in the evening (46.8%). Injuries often involved the head-neck region (92.1%), and 72.5% were of major severity. Pet dogs were responsible for 42% of injuries, and pit bull was the most-identified breed (36.2%). Most injuries occurred while the child was at home (57.8%) and was petting or playing with the dog (28.4%). Intervention in the operating room was required in 34.3% of patients. Major injury was more likely to require operative intervention (p = 0.015) but was not associated with patient age, sex, pet status, or the need for hospitalization.

Conclusions: Preschool-aged children are more likely to be injured by dog bites, and dog bites can result in major injury to the head and neck region. Prevention efforts should focus on dog training, public education (children and adults), vigilant adult supervision, and a zero-tolerance policy.

Level of clinical evidence: Level IV-case series with no comparison group.

Type of study: Prognostic.

Keywords: Children; Dog bite; Pitbull; Surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Animals
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Bites and Stings* / epidemiology
  • Bites and Stings* / prevention & control
  • Bites and Stings* / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dogs
  • Emergency Treatment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Parents / education*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Texas / epidemiology