Dog-related injuries account for a surprisingly large number of hospitalisations, new data reveals
In 2013-14 there were 572 cases of hospitalisation due to drowning in Australia. While this is a much-discussed cause of harm in the community, there is generally less discussion of dog-related hospitalisations.
However new data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that you are eight-times more likely to be hospitalised after an incident involving a dog than from a drowning.
In fact, there were 3,972 people hospitalised as a result of a dog-related injury in 2013-14, with males (2,003 cases) and females (1,969 cases) hospitalised in similar numbers.
Males (17.3 cases per 100,000 population) and females (16.7 cases per 100,000 population) also had similar rates of injury.
The highest rate of injury occurred in children aged 0–4 (26.5 cases per 100,000 population).
Two main types of dog-related injury are identifiable in hospital data: dog bites and being struck by a dog.
The former is by far the most prevalent, accounting for 92% of cases.
The highest number of dog bite hospitalised cases occurred among children aged 0–9 (652 cases), while the largest number of cases due to being struck by a dog occurred in Australians aged 70 or over (93 cases).
Overall, the most commonly injured body parts for dog-related injuries were the wrist and hand (1,659 cases, 42%) and the head (911 cases, 23%). For people struck by a dog, 37% of injuries were caused to the knee and lower leg. For those bitten by a dog, 45% of injuries were to the wrist or hand.
People who were bitten by dogs mainly had open wound injuries (3,013 cases) followed by fractures (200 cases) Over half (56%) of all people who were struck by dogs had fractures (183 cases); the next most common injury was an open wound (67 cases).
Of cases of hospitalised dog bite injury that resulted in an open wound, 654 had an infection (88%).