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Contexts and consequences of dog bite incidents

By James Andrew Oxley, Rob Christley, Carri Westgarth

Category Journal Articles

Dog bites are a contentious issue within the United Kingdom due to their effect on public health and increasing incidence. Despite multiple expert-led dog bite prevention schemes being available, there is limited evidence regarding the surrounding factors and likely causes of a dog bite (e.g., dog/human behavior). An online convenience sample questionnaire was distributed through social media between December 2015 and February 2016 targeting self-identified dog bite victims within the United Kingdom. A total of 484 responses were received. Victims were aged between 1 and 77 years when bitten. Most dogs (66.1%) were known to the victim. The most common context of a dog bite is related to interacting or attempting to interact with the dog (e.g., stroking, playing, handling, and restraining); however, in many cases, the dog approached the victim (50%). In 27% of cases, the dog was known to have bitten someone previously. If the upper extremities were bitten, it was likely the person approached the dog, whereas for the lower extremities, it was more likely the dog approached the person. Most injuries did not require medical treatment (62.3%), and there was no follow-on consequence for the dog involved (59.9%). Bites to an owner from their own dog were more likely to be seen as “accidental” and “unintentional” than bites from a less familiar dog. This study found contexts in which dog bites occur vary widely, and thus, a number of different prevention measures are required, including addressing repeat biters.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Publication Title Journal of Veterinary Behavior
Volume 23
Pages 33-39
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.jveb.2017.10.005
URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787817301168
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Bites and stings
  4. Dogs
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. peer-reviewed
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. Wounds and injuries
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed