It is estimated that 109 million dogs and cats are kept as domestic pets in the United States. The true incidence of mammalian bites is not known because many patients who are bitten by animals do not present to the emergency department. Fortunately, the majority (80%) of the estimated 2 million annual mammalian bites are minor wounds. Still, bite wounds account for approximately 1% of all emergency department visits: 10% of victims require suturing and follow-up visits and 1% to 2% require hospitalization. Mammalian bites account for about $30 million in annual health-care costs. Generally those who present to the emergency department are a self-selected group more likely to have serious wounds or infectious complications.

Dog bites account for 80% to 90% of animal bites. Fifty-eight percent of American families own a dog. Most dog bites are by dogs in the family;only 6% of bites are by stray dogs. The...

You do not currently have access to this content.