diseases caused by dog bite injuriesWhen a neighbor’s supposedly-friendly pooch takes a bite out of your leg, you might want to brush it off and not make a scene.

However, even a minor puncture wound from a dog’s teeth can lead to a serious infection and exorbitant medical bills. We take a look at signs of a serious dog bite wound and explain your options for holding the animal's owner liable for your losses.

Complications From Dog Bite Injuries

While a big dog might do severe damage to skin, tissue, and bone, even the smallest dog can cause a life-threatening injury. This is because the bacteria found in a dog’s mouth are a catalyst for nasty infections. Roughly 50 percent of dog bites introduce some kind of dangerous bacteria, and if the canine hasn't been vaccinated against certain diseases, its bite could pass the disease on to an unsuspecting victim.

Dog bites can cause:

  • Rabies. A dog with rabies can spread the disease through its saliva in an open wound. This virus spreads to the brain of an infected person and is almost always fatal.
  • Capnocytophaga. Common bacteria found in a dog’s mouth, it can make a person with a weakened immune system dangerously ill. Symptoms include blisters around the wound, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and joint pain. 
  • Pasteurella. Pain, redness, and swelling around a bite wound may be transmitted by this bacteria is a dog's saliva. In people with underlying diseases, pasteurella can cause meningitis, ocular infections, and respiratory infections.
  • Tetanus. If a dog bite victim hasn't been vaccinated for tetanus, they could suffer nervous system and neurological effects if the wound is contaminated by dirt containing the bacterium Clostridium tetani. This is a particular risk factor in deep bite wounds.

Because of the risk of these serious infections, it's vital that you clean the wound promptly and see a doctor as soon as possible. Massachusetts is a strict liability state for dog bites—this means the owner is always liable for the harm caused by their dog unless the victim was trespassing or abusing the animal.

Contact Our Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers to Discuss Your Dog Bite Injuries

At Mahaney & Pappas, LLP, we've handled many dog bite claims. If you or a loved one had to get stitches or developed a serious infection after a dog bite, contact our personal injury attorneys for help. We'll build a strong case to get the compensation you need now and for the future.


Charles S. Pappas
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Massachusetts injury lawyer & workers' compensation attorney serving accident victims in Webster & Framingham.