Lawyers For The People

What Kind of Injuries Can I Sustain from a Dog Bite?

| Apr 8, 2021 | Personal Injury

A dog attack is a traumatic experience. It often comes by surprise, and you feel powerless to control the situation. When you’ve been injured in a pet attack, it is possible to sue the animal’s owner for damages. Here are some ways you can be harmed in a dog attack.

Skin Damage

When discussing dog bites, you must start with the skin. This is the most vulnerable area, and it will suffer the most immediate effects of an animal attack. Skin injuries can go deep and have internal effects.

Skin Scraping

When you skin your knee or get a rug burn, you have suffered an “abrasion.” Abrasions scrape the top layer of skin. They don’t cut deep, but they can leave scarring. In an animal attack, you can suffer abrasions from more than just teeth or claws. While defending yourself, you may fall or bump against a hard surface, causing abrasions. Any injury that is a direct result of a dog attack can be included in a lawsuit.

Jagged, Deep Cuts

A deep cut characterized by jagged tearing is called a “laceration.” Teeth drag along the skin, causing cuts. Dogs may also use their paws as weapons. All of this pulling and wrenching easily leads to lacerated skin.

Clean, Straight Cuts

When doctors perform surgery, they use tools to make clean, straight cuts called “incisions.” With all the activity in a dog attack, the animal can make incisions into your skin. If their teeth or claws are sharp enough, cuts can be thin and clean. A dog’s dewclaws, located on the insides of their front paws, can be particularly sharp, catching and cutting skin at precise angles for an incision. Incisions take a long time to heal, and they scar easily. Ask any cat owner to show you incision scars from their cats, and you will probably see one.

Deep Cuts with a Small Opening

When you step on a nail, there is not much outer damage. The only wound you see will be a small opening in the skin. The nail, however, went deep into the skin layers. This is an example of a “puncture wound.” It’s easy to believe that puncture wounds are not a problem since the opening is so small. However, this is a dangerous assumption. Whatever punctures your skin also drags along the inner layers of tissue, down and back. Any germs on the surface of that object touch the inside of your skin and are now trapped inside.

A dog’s teeth are likely to make puncture wounds. Despite urban legends to the contrary, a dog’s mouth is not “clean.” They carry their own bacteria and microbes, which could get locked into your skin during an attack.

Skin Separating from Tissue Underneath

Skin peeling away from the body is called an “avulsion.” This is not the same as the top layer of skin peeling from a sunburn. An avulsion is skin completely saparating from muscle, bone, or other tissue underneath. It is a serious, terrifying injury. When skin is separated, it must be put back into place via surgery.

In severe avulsion injuries, surgical reattachment may not be an option. Your skin needs to bond with the tissue underneath. If the surgery isn’t performed quickly enough, the skin can die and be unable to accept blood flow. Even if the skin is still healthy, the body can sometimes reject a reattachment. When the skin won’t bond, it must be removed, and a skin graft may be the only other option.

Shattered Bone

More than just teeth is involved when an animal attacks. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. If a particularly large dog pounces on a small person, bones can break, fracture, or shatter completely. The impact of the dog itself can injure bones, and people often hit the ground or slam against a wall, which can also create bone injury.


The dog that attacked you, no matter how clean and domesticated, is just an animal. Its paws are always touching the ground, and its mouth has its own bacteria and viruses. When teeth and claws break your skin, they make contact with the tissue underneath. Once they are removed from the skin, their germs remain. This is how infections occur. Trapped inside layers of skin, infection can spread.

In minor cases, infection will be red, protrude a bit, and may produce puss. When infection is deep in the skin, it can spread to the surrounding tissue and organs, making someone very sick. A person can get flulike symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, etc. Unchecked infections can kill someone.

Infections can be viral or bacterial. Rabies is a virus commonly carried by dogs; and dog bites can sometimes lead to a bacterial, tetanus infection.

If you’ve been hurt in any kind of pet attack, contact us online, or call us at (607) 228-8404. We can evaluate the facts of your case and help you seek compensation for your injuries.