Last Updated: 7/20/2023

About one in five dog bites require medical attention, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of wounds from dog bites become infected, notes a 2001 report in the journal American Family Physician.

If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, it’s important to know what the risk factors are and what symptoms to watch for so that you can seek early intervention and treatment of dog bite infections.

Common Types of Dog Bite Infections

A dog bite infection is dependent upon several co-existing factors. Many infections have multiple microbial organisms from the dog’s saliva, the recipient’s skin, and the environment, according to Medscape.

One of the most common pathogens in dog bites is Capnocytophaga. This germ is naturally found in up to 41 percent of dogs’ saliva, Medscape reports. The rabies virus (Rhabdoviruses) is also another concern because worldwide, dogs are responsible for the transmission of rabies to humans 95 percent of the time, and the infection is often fatal.

Other infections associated with dog bites are Pasteurella multocida, Pasteurella canis and Staphylococcus and Streptococcus spp. Other infections might also develop, so it’s important to always see a doctor after any animal bite.

Risk Factors for Dog Bite Infections

Certain victims are more susceptible to infection than others. Those of advanced age, children, and those with supressed immune systems are at greater risk of infection. Also, the severity of the wound may increase the chances of infection. The deeper and more open the wound, the greater the risk of infection.

Other risk factors are below.

  • The presence of a chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, or splenectomy (which refers to removal of the spleen)
  • Unknown status of the dog’s immunization records
  • A susceptibility to edema (those who tend to swell and retain water easily)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Poor wound care

Symptoms of Dog Bite Infections

The signs of infections from dog bites are similar to other types of infection. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your physician straightaway to schedule an appointment or seek emergency care.

  • Swelling or redness around the wound
  • The area becomes very warm to the touch
  • The accumulation of yellow or white discharge
  • Fever or chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Red streaks around the wound 
  • Achy muscles
  • Headaches


Strict Liability

Iowa is what we call a strict liability state which basically means if a dog bites you and you were not doing something illegal, then the dog owner is liable for your injuries.  This also includes injuries you sustain while a dog is attacking you.  Some states have a so-called "first bite" rule which means you have to either prove the dog bit, someone, before or that it was a dangerous dog prior to biting you.  Thankfully, here in Iowa, we don't have that unnecessary burden to prove.  In Iowa, dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs under almost every situation. 


Iowa Dog Bite Book Available at No Cost

If you are still on the fence about whether you should contact a lawyer or not, then at the very least you should request a copy of our new book “Iowa Consumer’s Guide to Dog Bites - 5 Insider’s Secrets to Not Get Bitten by Your Case” that we offer you at no risk and no cost at  or by calling 641-792-3595

In our dog bite book, we answer questions like:

            Do I need an attorney in my dog bite case?

            If I need an attorney, how do I find the best attorney to handle my personal injury case?

            When should I hire an attorney?

            How much will it cost to hire an attorney?

            What will an attorney do for me?

            What damages am I able to recovery in my case?  and much, much more . . .

We offer our Dog Bite book because we have seen too many Iowans make avoidable, but very costly mistakes that sometimes cost them thousands of dollars and other times cost them their entire case.  So request a copy of our book so you can learn how to avoid costly mistakes in your case. 

Filing a Dog Bite Claim in Iowa

If you or your child suffered a dog bite attack in Iowa, you might be eligible to file a claim to recover damages, depending upon the circumstances of the incident.

If you can substantiate your case, you might be able to receive financial compensation for any or all of these needs.

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Attack-related emotional disorders
  • Mental anguish

Proving that the dog owner is responsible for your losses can be challenging, but it’s accomplishable with the help of an attorney who has experience with Iowa dog bite laws. Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair for assistance.

Contact us today for a FREE legal consultation at (641) 792-3595.

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.