How Can I Be Injured in a Dog Attack?


Injuries that we often call “scrapes” are better described as “abrasions.” Rug burns and knee scrapes are abrasions. It is the tearing of the top layer of skin. With a dog scratching and biting at you, abrasions can easily happen. You could also suffer abrasions from being knocked over or thrown against an object.


Dogs use their teeth and claws to fight. With these weapons bearing down on you, you can expect cuts to your skin. Cuts go deeper than abrasions, and they split the skin apart. There are generally two kinds of cuts you can expect in a dog attack.

Lacerations are jagged, misshapen cuts. In your efforts to ward off your attacker’s sharp weapons, you will probably sustain cuts like these. Incisions are straight, clean cuts used by surgeons. Depending on how the dog made contact, it is possible to sustain such injuries. Often, a dog’s dewclaws are sharp and pointed, capable of causing incisions. Incisions tend to take a longer time to heal than lacerations.


An avulsion is a terrifying, potentially life-threatening skin injury. It is not a breaking or tearing of the skin. It is a full separation of the skin from the tissue underneath. An avulsion is a literal peeling off of the skin.

This is not an injury that heals on its own. It requires surgery to mend, and treatment must happen quickly. Skin needs blood flow to stay healthy. Separated from the body for too long, it can die, making it unable to reattach. In such cases, only skin grafts can correct the problem.

Puncture Wounds

If you were attacked by the gnashing teeth of a vicious dog, you can probably expect to have puncture wounds. A puncture looks like a minor problem from the outside. It can appear as a simple little hole, and it may not even draw much blood.

Under the skin, however, punctures can have deleterious effects. As an object penetrates the top layer of skin, it travels down, touching deeper layers. This contact doubles as it travels back up, exiting the body. Whatever germs that were on the object can get trapped in these deeper layers, which can allow them to spread disease and infections. These side effects can go unnoticed until they become a big problem.


Speaking of infections, any of the attacks discussed above can have this effect. Dogs are not known for keeping clean. Their teeth contain bacteria that human bodies are unaccustomed to. Their nails are making constant contact with the ground, where they can make contact with dirt, animal droppings, or plenty of other kinds of filth. With these two body parts as their main weapons, it’s easy for infections to get into the body and spread.

Minor infections appear as redness around a wound. They may start to puss a bit, but they can mostly be treated with alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, ointments, and so on. A major, deep infection can spread throughout the body, touching vital organs. Left untreated, such infections can be fatal. There are two major forms of infection: viral and bacterial.

Rabies is a common virus among vicious dogs, and it can spread to humans in an attack. A mild rabies infection can mimic the flu. Sufferers can experience fevers, chills, headaches, and the like. Major rabies infections can have crippling effects on a human. Rabies can cause damage to important neurological functions. Infected people may have trouble sleeping. If left untreated, rabies can lead to episodes of dissociation. At its final phase, rabies can impact cognitive functions. When it reaches this level, it could be untreatable, and the infected person may not survive.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection often associated with dog attacks. As the infection progresses, the sufferer can experience lockjaw. The muscles in their jaw tighten, which can affect their ability to speak or eat, and it could lead to uncontrolled drooling. Tetanus infections can be treated with a strong mixture of tetanus immune globulin (TIG) and antibodies. This cocktail is often administered alongside muscle relaxers, loosening the jaw. Left untreated, a tetanus infection can be fatal.

Bone, Muscle, and Back Injury

Both people and dogs come in all shapes and sizes. An attack by a small dog can cause cuts and injuries but probably won’t result in impact injuries. If a 120-lb Rottweiler suddenly hits you from behind, however, you could get seriously hurt. A sudden impact like that can break bones, tear muscle, or cause spinal damage.

Any outside injuries you sustain count as part of the overall attack. If an attack throws you to the ground, for instance, the harm you suffer from that fall is included. You can be seriously hurt in a fall on a hard surface. Bone, back, muscle, or head injuries are common in such accidents.


A sudden, unexpected attack from a dog can force your body to move in unexpected, damaging ways. Imagine you are hit hard in the middle. Your torso flies in one direction, causing your head to lurch the other. If this movement is too sudden and too quick, you can suffer whiplash.

Whiplash symptoms can range from inconvenient to incapacitating. You can suffer neck pain, causing you to limit your movements as you heal. At its most extreme, whiplash can keep you from holding your head upright, and it requires major surgery.

Emotional Trauma

Everyone’s body is unique. One person recovers from an injury quickly, good as new. Another person with an identical injury takes months or years to heal. The same is true for emotional trauma. Someone could be injured in an attack and shake it off emotionally, another could be mentally scarred for life. Modern psychology is aware of the long-term effects of PTSD, a traumatic response to a life-threatening situation. Such a condition is entirely possible if someone was caught unaware, suddenly mauled by a vicious animal.

Children are particularly susceptible to trauma after an animal attack. They can develop agoraphobia, a fear of the outdoors. They could also be fearful of any dog they encounter after the attack. This could last for months, years, or even a lifetime.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Dog owners are responsible for leashing and controlling their animals. If a pet dog attacked you, liability lies on that dog’s master. You may be entitled to personal injury compensation from them. Such compensation can pay back your medical bills and wages lost in recovery. You may even be eligible for non-economic damages, being reimbursed for your pain and suffering.

If you’ve been hurt by someone’s pet, contact our office for a free consultation. Our number is (937) 403-9033, and you can reach us online.