Plastic Surgery and Emotional Counseling After a Dog Attack

The numbers associated with dog bites and attacks are staggering.  There are thousands of visits each year to US emergency rooms and urgent care facilities after a dog attack that results in dog bite injuries.  What are some typical examples of dog bite treatment and therapy?  What should a parent or family member know about the process of recovering from a dog bite?

Dog Bite Treatment in the Immediate Aftermath

The safest strategy is to call 9-1-1 after an attack.  If the dog appeared to be foaming at the mouth head immediately to the emergency room or urgent care facility.  If puncture wounds or tearing injuries are present it is best to seek immediate medical attention.

Most physicians agree that infection is one of the most common risks associated with dog bites.  Care and treatment for dog bites will depend upon the severity of the wounds and injuries.  Many suggest rinsing the injuries with warm soapy water.  Puncture wounds should not be treated with Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine or mercurochrome.  For deeper wounds, or wounds that are bleeding more aggressively, apply pressure with a clean sterile pad, bandage or towel and seek immediate medical help.  Do not attempt to close wounds with steri-strips or other medical bandaging.  Many physicians recommend covering the wound with sterile pad(s) until the victim can seek medical care.

You should seek immediate medical attention for all injuries that puncture or tear the skin or other tissue.

What Should You Do if you are Injured by a Dog Bite?

Early Medical Treatment / Surgical Consult

Immediate or early medical treatment is advantageous to the patient, as well as the process to begin recovery.  It is important to seek treatment for injuries and to prevent the onset or spread of infection.  Many dog bite injuries result in severe scarring.  Once initial treatment is completed, the patient will often be referred to a plastic surgeon for a surgical consult.  I can tell you from personal experience that plastic surgery techniques have come a long way, and there are many positive results that can be achieved in these cases.  It may be necessary to have more than one plastic surgery over the course of months or years to reduce or eliminate visible scarring.

Emotional Treatment and Re-Mirroring

Dog bite treatment and therapy would not be complete without considering the emotional impact of the experience.  Dog attacks are quite vicious, and more than half of children and many adults who suffer a dog attack will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  A dog attack can destroy a person’s sense of “security” and alter their personality.  Many cases require extensive emotional counseling from a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in these cases.

Patients who have suffered facial injuries and scarring face additional emotional challenges.  Facial injuries and scarring can damage a person or child’s self esteem, and how they see themselves as a person.  The “re-mirroring” process surrounds the patient with the loving reassurance of family, peers, therapists, physicians and surgeons.  Continuing messages of encouragement help a patient to re-mirror, to re-establish a link between the “self” the patient has always known and the newly repaired image they see in a mirror.  What they see in the mirror must be integrated into their own self-esteem and self-image.  This can require extensive therapy over a long period of time.

Who Pays for Injuries, Treatment and Resulting Expenses in a Dog Bite or Attack?

Most dog bites that result in injury will exceed the maximum limit of the “medical” portion of a homeowners or renters insurance policy.   In California, the dog owner is “strictly liable” for all financial liabilities associated with injuries from a dog bite or attack.  The “liability” portion of the homeowners insurance or renters insurance of the dog’s owner is the primary source of recovery in these cases.

It is important to ensure that all short and long-term care issues of dog bite treatment and therapy, surgeries and emotional counseling factors have been weighed and incorporated before reaching a settlement.  I have more than 40 years of experience in these cases, and can answer any question you may have in a free consultation at (949)305-1400 or you can contact us online.

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