Dogs have been long labelled as a man’s best friend. Children love playing with their pet dogs, and are constantly left with dogs unsupervised. This has become quite a hazardous choice nowadays, as the breeds of dog people are choosing to keep as pets nowadays have become increasingly of the dangerous kind. Japanese Akita, Pit Bull and Rottweiler are common breeds of dogs that are kept as pets and have been known to attack young children and cause serious injuries.

Physical and Psychological Effects
The injuries young children sustain have long lasting effects, both physical and psychological. When we hear about dog bites, we tend to think of minor injuries such as a small bite on the arm, or a cut on the leg. However, in reality, the damage caused by dog attacks is underestimated.

In Newbold, Derbyshire, a three-year old boy needed 100 stitches to mend a bite on his face caused by a Japanese Akita. Another child in Boynton Beach, Florida, required three surgeries after an attack by a Pit Bull. These injuries are serious and children have to suffer devastating consequences due to these attacks.

The physical injuries may eventually heal, but the psychological and emotional trauma a child feels may never go away. The attack can instill a new set of fears for the child, and every time the child sees a dog or a similar animal, they will be frightened, and memories of the attack may resurface.

Psychological Effects are underestimated
Adults overlook these emotional side effects of dog attacks. This can be due to the fact that with adults and older children, the emotional effects may not be as devastating. Older children and adults are able to discuss their feelings and the incident easily with others, they may even brag about it. With younger children, the experience scars them for life, and with some sensitive children, talking about the experience proves to be very difficult.

PTSD and Dog Attacks
Young children are also more at risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thus, it is very important for parents and physicians to assess a dog bite victim both physically and mentally. Parents should be on the lookout for any possible signs of PTSD, such as:

Sleep issues
Changes in appetite
Severe behavioral issues
Parents should encourage their child to talk about their traumatic experience, but if the child is having difficulty doing so, a visit to a pediatric psychologist may be advisable.

The three-year-old boy who had been maimed by the Japanese Akita asked his mother, if he was ‘still cute’. This proves that children see themselves differently after the attack. They know they have changed in some way, and even if they cannot comprehend the extent, of which they have.

When someone suffers from a dog attack, the damage done can usually be underestimated, especially if the physical injuries are small or minor. Dog bites are more likely to occur with children than with any other age group. With children, this is particularly true, as they may be afraid to recount details of their attack and will keep much of their fear inside.

Here are some references parents may find useful related to childhood dog attacks: