Specialist solicitor gives guidance on dog bite injury cases and the availability of medical treatment

Recovery for dog bite victims can be a long process. Both physical and psychological injuries can require specialist treatment either via the NHS or funded on a privately paying basis through your dog bite personal injury compensation claim.

The Boots website (www.wedmd.boots.com) is a brilliant source of information on the procedures and treatment dog bite victim might expect to undergo.

The first thing any A&E department or hospital will do is wash the wound out. After being cleaned, any dead or damaged tissue will be removed. Stiches will be used if there is excessive blood loss although in a lot of cases the wound will be left open because of the high risk of infection. Animal saliva contains millions of bacteria and infection is a major concern for all dog bite victims.

Some wounds may have resulted in damage to muscles, tendons or nerves which require surgical repair. More powerful dogs can bite causing broken bones or injury to joints which require setting or surgery. Facial wound or bites to areas of reduced blood flow, such as the ear or nose need special attention. Reconstructive surgery may be necessary.

Where a dog bite injury involves bites to the hands, feet or face or if there is a severe injury, a seven-day course of antibiotics may be prescribed.

Whoever is treating a dog bite victim will be particularly aware of the risk posed by Tetanus. Tetanus is a “potentially fatal infection that affects the nervous system and muscles”. Broken skin from a dog bite could allow the bacteria “Clostridium tetani” to enter and this can causes tetanus. Symptoms appear after four to 21 days and include muscle stiffness and spasms, especially in your jaw muscles, hence its other name – lockjaw.

Most children will already be immunised against tetanus. Five doses are routinely given across the UK as part of the NHS childhood immunisation programme. If an adult is unsure if they have been fully immunised, they should seek advice from their GP who will give advice on whether or not you need a booster injection. People with bites at risk of infection by tetanus can be treated with tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG), which gives immediate short-term protection against the infection.

Rabies is another potentially fatal infection that affects the nervous system, but it is very rare in the UK and all cases reported since 1946 have been caused by animals outside the UK.

Psychological injuries can be almost as devastating as physical injuries for many dog bite victims.

Shockingly, about one in 10 children with a moderate dog bite and one in four with a severe dog bite develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children can report becoming nervous and scared around dogs and suffer nightmares. Separation anxiety where children do not want to be left alone is not uncommon. For a few months the child may be scared of the dark or not want to be left alone. The child may refuse to go outside alone or become shy with family or friends. Children can also become aggressive or lose interest in school activities and games. If the symptoms of PTSD don't disappear after a few months the child may need medical help such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Says Dog bite specialist Solicitor James McNally:

"Treatment following a dog bite can be complex and take a lot longer than people may expect. It can also be expensive. Quite often the NHS isn’t able to offer the treatment needed. NHS Plastic Surgery clinics have limits to what they are willing to fund and waiting lists for counselling can be lengthy. As part of bringing a claim for personal injury we will look to get the very best treatment for our dog-bite clients. We will first get them examined by a specialist who can advise exactly what treatment they need. We will then look to the Defendant to fund that treatment. The treatment can be anything that's recommended and likely to help. In the past we have recovered funding for lots of things including plastic surgery, counselling and also cosmetic camouflage make up."  

If you have been a victim of a dog bite injury and wish to claim compensation contact our specialist dog bite solicitors without delay for FREE legal advice. Email james.mcnally@sleeblackwell.co.uk or call our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1601.

Medical treatment for dog bite injury victims
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