Long Term Effects of Dog Attacks | Zirkin & Schmerling

Long Term Effects of Dog Attacks

what are the long term effects of dog attacks

Being attacked and even bitten by a dog can have serious lasting effects on the body. And even if no physical injuries are sustained, the emotional trauma that can develop can be a difficult hurdle to face. Around 4.5 million people suffer injuries from dog attacks every year, making it a fairly common cause of both physical and emotional trauma.

Though many dogs may seem like friendly pets, there is no way to know how they might act in any given situation, especially if they feel threatened or are trying to protect themselves or their owner. To avoid the traumatic and potentially lingering effects of being attacked by a dog, you should never approach a dog that you aren’t familiar with.

Additionally, even if a dog seems friendly with its owner, you should always ask if it is safe for you to pet them, as they may be scared or aggressive with strangers. If you find yourself being chased down by a dog, it is usually best not to run away, as it only motivates the dog to continue going after you. Though every dog and situation is different, the general rule of thumb is to stop, drop, and roll or freeze and try to appear unthreatening.

How Dog Attacks Physically Affect the Body

Though minor injuries sustained from dog attacks may heal more quickly, there are some cases where the physical effects can be much more severe.

Scarring and Disfigurement

Depending on the severity of the wound, a dog attack can leave behind permanent scars. This is likely to occur when you have sustained deep puncture wounds and lacerations, as well as skin being torn away from the skin. Though skin grafts and plastic surgery can help, they are not guaranteed to return your skin or body to the exact way it was before. Bites to the face can be especially brutal and hard to completely fix. For this reason, if you can, drop to the ground with your head and knees tucked in and cover the back of your neck with your hands — this can help you avoid sustaining injuries to any major parts of the body. 

Infections, Disease, and Complications

Unfortunately, any wound, big or small, can lead to further issues and complications. If, for some reason, the wound is not healing properly, it may have become infected. Signs that you could be suffering from infection include:

  • Redness and swelling or even red streaks around the wound
  • Discoloration and pus drainage
  • Difficulty moving the area of your body that was injured
  • Pain that lasts more than a day
  • Fever, chills, and night sweats
  • Excessive warmth radiating around the wound

You can become infected and experience the above symptoms from the following diseases, bacteria, and toxins:

  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Pasteurella
  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Staph infection

A number of lasting physical effects can result from a wound that has become infected, such as amputation, paralysis, disfigurement, and issues with mobility.

Emotional Effects That Result from Dog Attacks

While the physical scars and damage left behind seem traumatic enough, there are unfortunately a number of emotional and psychological effects that can additionally result from being attacked by a dog. Children are especially prone to developing emotional trauma because of their smaller size in comparison to larger dogs, which makes the attack seem much scarier and is more difficult for them to process.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is often seen in patients who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events. This mental health condition can present in many ways depending on the individual, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Depression
  • Avoiding people or places that trigger memories of the event
  • Paranoia
  • Excessive anger, worry, and fear

Cynophobia and Agoraphobia

Cynophobia and agoraphobia are both extreme fears that can develop as a result of emotional trauma from dog attacks. Though they technically fall within the rest of the symptoms of PTSD, experiencing them can have a much more dramatic and lasting effect on your way of life.

Cynophobia, which is a fear of dogs, is quite common for victims of dog attacks to develop. Those who suffer from this condition can easily be triggered by dogs barking, even if it is one they know to be friendly. Over time, this fear can cause victims to become extremely paranoid in any situation where a dog could appear. This can lead to the development of agoraphobia. Individuals with agoraphobia have a fear of leaving their home or entering into any place or environment where a dog may be present. With time, if the condition is not addressed, it can severely affect the individual’s daily life, as well as their health.

Have a Legal Question About a Dog Attack? We Have Answers.

If you or a loved one has experienced a dog attack, the attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law are here to help. We understand the emotional and physical toll dog attacks can have on your life and wellbeing. Our experts are here to answer all of your questions and guide you through the challenging process of understanding Maryland laws pertaining to dog attacks. Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our dog attack attorneys today.