What Seniors Need to Know About Dog Bites

Senior citizens are more at risk of developing complications or sustaining serious injury as a result of dog bites, so it is important to exercise caution when around a dog you don’t know. Likewise, dog owners need to be extra careful when their dog is around kids or the elderly. 

husky dog

Risks From Dog Bites


Some of the complications or other consequences that may result from a dog bite can include:


      Rabies - this is fatal if not treated with injections as soon as possible, underscoring why you must go to the hospital immediately if you’ve been bitten by a dog. Read more here about how to tell if a dog might be rabid

      Emotional trauma - dog bites can be traumatic experiences that may lead to complications of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

      Permanent scarring 

      Disfigurement - this can include such grisly wounds as missing fingers or toes, even entire limbs depending on the seriousness of the bite and potential infection


      Serious lacerations requiring stitches

      Death - this was the case as recently as November 2020 when an elderly Florida resident died as a result of severe lacerations from a random dog attack


For every one of the above-listed risk factors, they are all increased by several levels of magnitude when the victim is an older individual.


As we age, our immune systems become gradually suppressed, which means we are less able to fight off infections, and also become more prone to developing more severe infections that would otherwise have a lesser impact on our bodies.


Additionally, recovery times from physical injuries become longer and often more complicated as we get older, underscoring the need to avoid potential dog attacks. In order to avoid these kinds of potentially fatal attacks, it is crucial to maintain vigilance. 

Maintaining Vigilance 


Although most trained dogs are friendly creatures that are well accustomed to humans, some dogs can scare easily or react defensively, even from minor provocations. As a good habit, it is best for anyone, but especially seniors, small children, and anyone who is immune compromised, to not pet strange dogs.


If you simply cannot resist, at the very least make sure that you have express permission from the dog’s owner, and only after you have confirmed that the dog doesn’t bite. Even if you receive verbal assurance, pet strange dogs only at your own risk.


If you see an unleashed dog without a collar, never approach it. It is always wisest to seek alternative routes to not cross paths with a wild dog. If you are chased by a dog, do not try to outrun it, but instead stand tall, wave your arms, and yell loudly. Even if a dog doesn’t respond to verbal commands, it may be intimidated enough to cease its approach. 


What to Do if You’ve Been Bitten By a Dog


Any dog bite that draws blood needs to be treated as a medical emergency. Any dog bite victim, old or young, should get to a hospital as soon as possible to receive a rabies shot and get checked out by a doctor. 


Many dog bites require stitches in addition to antibiotics to stave off infection. Although petting a dog is something that you do at your own risk, civil liability represents a different realm, one in which you can claim monetary compensation for your dog bite injury. 

Who is Responsible When a Dog Bites a Senior?


Dog owners are responsible for any harm that comes to another person as a result of their dog attacking or biting. This is true on their own property, with exceptions for intruders, or when walking in public. If your dog bites someone when they are off the leash in a city, town, or state with a leash law, you as the dog owner can be fined or even face steeper penalties. 


Dog owner liability is an entire field of legal practice revolving around cases that involve representation of dog owners being sued or dog bite victims who are pursuing a civil court claim to gain compensatory damages as a result of injury or trauma.