Last Updated: 2/16/2023

Children are the most frequent victims of dog bites in the United States. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day, there are close to 4.5 million dog bites in the United States, and about half of these bites involve children. The ages that receive the most dog bites are children between five and nine.

A dog bite is frightening enough for a Des Moines adult. However, the trauma is increased tenfold for a child because of the dog’s similar size. The months or even years, after a dog bite are marked by physical problems, emotional upheaval, and can even include long-term psychological effects.

Physical Effects of a Dog Bite

Children are much more susceptible to the damaging impact of a dog bite. Children’s skin is not as tough as an adult’s and are more likely to suffer broken bones from a dog bite attack.

When a dog bites a child, these are some of the most common injuries.

  • Ripped scalp
  • Torn ears
  • Injuries to the mouth
  • Eye injuries

Even when these injuries appear to have healed, they may leave behind long-term damage. For instance, a severed nerve can result in weak facial muscles that can give the face a ‘drooping’ look or impede facial expressions.

Scarring is another long-term physical effect of a dog bite injury. A dog bite can inflict deep wounds that injure not just the upper layer of the skin but also go deep down into the flesh and bone. When these wounds heal, they leave behind scars that are bumpy and disfiguring. Reconstructive surgery can help restore the appearance of the child to some extent, but some scarring may remain even after multiple surgeries.

Other types of facial injuries that involve the skin and the bones may also cause some amount of disfigurement, as the child continues to grow. For instance, the child may lose facial symmetry.

Emotional Consequences of a Dog Bite

While a child may learn to live with the physical effects of a dog bite, the emotional consequences can continue to trouble him or her for years to come. For an entire book on dog bites, we offer a free eBook, Iowa Consumers’ Guide to Dog Bites, Attacks and Injuries.

Research on children who have suffered a dog bite reported by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology indicates the appearance of a number of long-term emotional reactions to the attack.

  • Separation anxiety, especially when separated from parents
  • Excessive crying
  • Withdrawal
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Sleep problems
  • Irrational fears
  • Nightmares
  • Problems in school
  • Complaints of medical ailments even when there are no physical symptoms
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Emotional numbing
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Avoidance
  • Lack of trust

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Long-Term Effects of Dog Bite

A major risk when a child suffers a dog bite is the development of a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder. The situation does not develop immediately after the bite. Rather, symptoms may emerge several weeks or months after the dog bite.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder involve a combination of the following.

  • Jumpiness
  • Frequent bouts of crying
  • Anxiety
  • Poor performance in school
  • Lost interest in activities
  • Concentration problems
  • Nightmares

The physical, emotional or psychological effects of a dog bite, therefore, may continue to impact the child's self-esteem, confidence, and emotional growth. You may notice an effect on your kid’s ability to participate in school and activities, as well as social interactions.

Therefore, the damages claimed after a dog bite attack in Des Moines must include both physical and emotional amounts.

  • Emergency room and ambulance costs
  • Long-term care, such as home-schooling if your child has PTSD
  • Psychological counseling
  • Follow-up surgeries

We know this can be a hard step to take and when you are ready you can speak to a Des Moines dog bite lawyer about filing a claim for compensation for all long-term damages. Call (641) 792-3595 to speak with a dog bite attorney at Walker Billingsley and Bair, or schedule a consultation by filling out the online contact form. Initial consultations are free. 

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