Dog Bites and Infections

We all love our puppies but if they’re not trained properly, dog bite incidents do occur. Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers tend to get a bad rap since their breeds have higher incidences of biting, yet any breed is capable of chomping down on a person. Why is a dog bite particularly bad? What type of infections do dog bites cause?

Understanding Dog Dental Anatomy

A dog’s mouth is somewhat similar to a human’s. Incisors are used for piercing, picking things up, and occasional grooming. These are located directly in the front of the dog’s mouth. Canines are usually the sharpest teeth in a dog’s mouth and are used for ripping and wounding prey. If a dog is wary of you or angry, it may display these teeth as a warning before attack.

Premolars and molars make up the rest of a dog’s teeth and are located toward the back of the mouth. These teeth are used for grinding up food, which is identical to the purpose of human molars. However, the bite strength of a dog’s molar zone can be as great as 80,000 psi. To put that in perspective, that amount of pressure could break certain forms of steel.

What Infections Are Caused by Dog Bites?

Saliva from any mammal has a whole host of bacteria. In dog bites, their saliva has a few types of bacteria that can infect humans. One of these is the bacterium Bergeyella zoohelcum. This bacterium is responsible for causing cellulitis and septic arthritis. Other long-term effects such as bone infections that take years to show and are difficult to manage are also caused by this bacterium that in a dog’s mouth is otherwise harmless.

Other harmful-to-humans bacteria live in dog’s saliva. Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which means literally “dog bite” in Latin, occurs in 60% of all dog bites. When transmitted to humans through a dog bite, this bacterium has been known to cause blood poisoning (sepsis), inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes (meningitis), inflammation of the heart valves and chambers (endocarditis), and eye infections.

I’ve Been Bitten by a Dog and Need Help ASAP

Once the dog has been subdued, wash the injury out with soap and water then immediately go to the hospital. Luckily rabies infections from dog bites in the US are incredibly rare; however, it doesn’t mean the wound will not be infected with other organisms such as those listed above. A skilled physician will assess your injury and determine the proper course of treatment.

After your doctor’s visit, you may be wondering where to go from there. The Advocates will provide you with an experienced dog bite attorney who can go over the necessary steps to seek compensation. If your injury is particularly severe, we will be able to refer you to plastic surgeons who specialize in dog bite reconstruction. Give us a call today!

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