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Dog bites and post-traumatic stress: Reducing PTSD in children


One of the first reactions to a dog bite is seeking medical care for physical wounds. Something you shouldn’t overlook, though, is the potential for mental injuries, too. Psychological injuries can be caused by these traumatic events, which results in those attacked by dogs being scared of them, hesitant to leave the home, or to act in unusual ways. Anxiety or depression can also result.

For children who have been bitten by a pet dog or stray, post-traumatic stress disorder is a common finding. With the right psychotherapy, these children can get the help they need to reduce anxiety and to get back to a normal life.

The shock of a dog bite for a child is different than for an adult partially because of a child’s size. A small child may have the biting dog at eye level; he or she may see the dog’s teeth, hear the dog up-close and personal, and may even remember the dog’s breath or the size of the dog seeming larger than it was. The shock of an attack can be an overload of the senses for adults, so imagine what it must be like for children.

There are around 1,000 dog bites each day in the United States, and many of those attacks will involve children. Talking about the attack in an age-appropriate manner is just one way hospitals now aim to reduce the number of children suffering from PTSD following an attack. This discussion should not happen only once, but for a month or even longer. Psychological assistance can be received from a professional if it’s needed, which is something your attorney should take into account when you seek compensation.

Source: Contemporary Pediatrics, “Dog bites in children: Focus on posttraumatic stress disorder,” Larry Schmitt M.D., accessed Dec. 01, 2015

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