Dog and cat bites: epidemiologic analyses suggest different prevention strategies

Public Health Rep. 1998 May-Jun;113(3):252-7.


Objective: To examine the characteristics of reported dog and cat bite incidents in El Paso, Texas, and their implications for local bite prevention programs.

Methods: The authors reviewed a random sample of reported dog bites and all reported cat bites in El Paso, Texas, in 1995 using existing animal control surveillance data.

Results: The majority of cat bites (89.4%) were provoked, with females (57.5%) and adults (68.3%) more likely to be victims than males or children. In contrast, just under half of dog bites (44.6%) were provoked, with males (65.6%) and children (63%) more likely to be victims than females or adults. Dogs that had not been vaccinated for rabies were involved in 65% of dog bites and cats that had not been vaccinated for rabies were involved in 92% of cat bites.

Conclusion: Effective bite prevention programs should address the finding that both restrained and unrestrained dogs may bite even when unprovoked and that unrestrained cats usually bite when provoked.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Bites and Stings / etiology
  • Bites and Stings / prevention & control*
  • Cats*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Sex Distribution
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data