Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Dog Bite

In the United States, it is estimated that there are about 4.5 million dog bites every year, with nearly 1 in 5 bites becoming infected and killing two people annually by rabies. [1] About 800,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites annually, almost half of whom are children. [2]

The statistics highlight the prevalence and potential impact of dog bites in the U.S. Experiencing a dog bite can be a traumatic event that might lead to the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Studies show that 50% of individuals bitten by dogs experience symptoms of PTSD.

This article provides insight into the causes, symptoms, treatments, and legal implications of PTSD following a dog bite.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop in individuals who have experienced a traumatic event, such as a dog bite injury. PTSD can result from the physical injury itself, as well as the psychological impact of the attack.

Those affected will benefit from seeking support from mental health professionals who can provide therapy and treatment for PTSD. Individuals may also consider seeking legal counsel to explore potential avenues for compensation for their emotional distress and mental health treatment.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Causes of PTSD After a Dog Bite

Several factors can contribute to the onset of PTSD after a dog bite, including the severity of the injury, the individual’s prior experiences with dogs, and the level of support and resources available to them following the incident.

Understanding the causes of PTSD after a dog bite is essential to provide appropriate care and support for those who have been affected.

  • Emotional Trauma: Experiencing a dog bite trauma can lead to emotional damage such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The traumatic experience of a dog bite, including the fear of animal attacks and the impact on one’s sense of safety and trust, can contribute to the development of PTSD.
  • Fear of Dogs: The sudden and unexpected nature of a dog bite can leave the victim feeling fearful and helpless. The feeling of being unable to protect oneself can lead to a sense of vulnerability and contribute to the development of PTSD.
  • Lack of Support: A lack of social support, understanding, or validation of the emotional impact of the dog bite can exacerbate the development of PTSD.
  • Physical Trauma: The physical trauma of being bitten by a dog can be a significant cause of PTSD. The pain and injury resulting from a dog bite can lead to distressing memories and ongoing psychological effects.

Symptoms of PTSD After a Dog Bite

Recognizing and understanding the common symptoms of PTSD is significant in seeking appropriate support and treatment for those who have been affected by a dog bite.

Symptoms of PTSD after a dog bite can manifest physically, emotionally, and behaviorally and can often disrupt a person’s ability to function normally in their daily life. Following are the symptoms of PTSD after a dog bite:

  • Avoidance Behavior: People with PTSD may actively avoid situations, places, or people that remind them of the dog bite incident. The avoidance behavior can interfere with their quality of life and lead to social isolation.
  • Body Image Issues: Body image issues can manifest as a symptom of PTSD after a violent dog attack, leading to distress about visible facial scars or disfigurement. These feelings of self-consciousness and altered self-perception can contribute to the emotional trauma experienced by the victim, complicating their ability to cope with the aftermath of the dog attack.
  • Difficulty Adjusting to Daily Life: Changes in daily life can result in a sense of disorientation and lack of structure, making it hard to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively. It can lead to feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, impacting mental well-being. Besides, fluctuating energy levels can make it difficult to sustain a consistent level of productivity, leaving individuals feeling drained and demotivated.
  • Hypervigilance: Individuals may experience constant hypervigilance, constantly feeling on edge, anxious, or overly alert to potential threats. It can lead to difficulty focusing on everyday tasks and disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Intrusive Memories: Individuals may experience recurring, distressing thoughts or memories of the dog bite, which can be intrusive and difficult to control. These traumatic memories can cause significant distress and emotional discomfort, triggering flashbacks or nightmares.
  • Irritability or Aggression: People with PTSD may experience increased irritability, anger outbursts, or display aggressive tendencies, often feeling on edge and easily triggered by the dog bite memory or related situations.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep due to intrusive thoughts, nightmares, or general anxiety related to the dog bite incident.
Symptoms of PTSD After a Dog Bite

How to Overcome PTSD After a Dog Bite?

If dog bite victims are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, they should seek help and support to overcome the trauma.

Therapeutic strategies such as counseling and therapy can help dog bite victims process the events and emotions surrounding the attack, as well as provide them with coping mechanisms to manage the symptoms of PTSD. Exposure to dogs in a controlled environment, under the guidance of a professional, can also help to gradually decrease fear and anxiety related to dogs and improve a sense of security.

Address any physical injuries with medical care and seek legal assistance if there are any potential compensation claims. Building a support system and utilizing professional help can aid in navigating through the trauma and working toward mental healing and recovery.

Seeking Justice for PTSD Victims After a Dog Bite

The aftermath of a dog bite attack often extends beyond physical wounds, leaving lasting emotional scars that can manifest as PTSD. In pursuing justice, it becomes imperative to acknowledge and address the profound impact of the psychological trauma on the victim’s life, advocating for comprehensive support and legal measures to aid their healing process.

Legal implications for people living with PTSD after a dog bite involves advocating for their rights to compensation for their injuries and related expenses such as therapy. Establishing the link between the dog attack and subsequent PTSD requires diligent documentation of the psychological trauma, often through expert testimony and medical records.

Seeking Justice for PTSD Victims After a Dog Bite

Consult Goldberg & Loren’s dedicated dog bite attorneys for expert guidance in securing financial restitution for medical expenses and therapy.


[1] M. (2023, December 8). The Latest Dog Bite Statistics 2023. Understand The Risks. Paw Planning.

[2] Dog bite prevention. (n.d.). American Veterinary Medical Association.

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