The stress, trauma and lasting impact of a dog bite on children can be significant. While the physical pain may subside, the emotional pain a child suffers following a dog attack can remain for a significant period of time and even last a lifetime. In general, the emotional damage and fears that follows the victim of a dog attack can be significant and persistent.

Physically speaking, a dog attacking a child can be viewed as similar to a bear attacking a grown adult. Following a traumatic experience, children sometimes remain silent to please adults around them which can lead to emotional challenges and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some circumstances following a dog bite. In some situations, PTSD can impact normal daily functioning of the victim.

Research has revealed that PTSD occurs in a number of childhood dog bite victims. In other words, a high percentage of children attacked by dogs suffer from PTSD. Generally, signs and symptoms of PTSD can include excessive anxiety; irritability; depression; pronounced startle responses; depression; physical complaints; sleep disturbances; reduced creativity; decreased school performance; altered appetite; withdrawal; and behavior problems. To help children with the lasting impact of a dog bite, physicians can recommend physical and emotional treatments.

In addition, legal options may be available for victims of dog attacks to help them with the physical, emotional and financial costs of a dog bite. Greater than 4 million dog bites are reported in the U.S. each year which makes it important for victims to understand the wide variety of resources available to aid and assist them when harmed.

Source: Contemporary Pediatrics, “Dog bites in children: Focus on posttraumatic stress disorder,” Accessed July 5, 2015