What Health Complications Can a Dog Bite Cause?

Though most dog bites will heal without any lasting health complications, some can cause serious infections that may require hospitalization or, in rare cases, result in death. In the United States, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, and of those bites, almost 20% require medical attention. If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks so that you can get the treatment you need as soon as possible.

Some of the most common health complications that can be caused by a dog bite include:


One of the most serious health complications that can arise from a dog bite is rabies. Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and is usually fatal once symptoms develop. The good news is that rabies is preventable with a vaccine. In the United States, all dogs are required to be vaccinated against rabies. Still, sometimes owners forget to vaccinate their dogs or choose not to, so you should always obtain a proof of rabies vaccine for their dog if you’ve sustained a bite. If you aren’t able to obtain see proof of the rabies vaccine, you should go to the hospital immediately. 


Even if a dog bite doesn’t cause rabies, it can still lead to other infections—particularly if the wound isn’t properly cleaned and treated. Bacteria like tetanus, MRSA, and E coli can all enter the body through an open wound and cause serious infections. 

Tetanus, for example, is caused by bacteria that enters the body through open wounds and causes muscle stiffness and spasms—which can lead to respiratory failure and death in severe cases. MRSA is another infection that can be caused by dog bites; this infection is resistant to many antibiotics and can cause serious skin infections—or even blood poisoning—if left untreated. 

Of course, these are just a few examples; there are many other types of infections that can be caused by dog bites. That’s why it’s so important to seek medical attention after being bitten by a dog and to follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment carefully. 

Nerve Damage

Dog bites can also cause nerve damage. If a bite pierces deep enough, it can damage nerves and cause numbness or paralysis in the affected area. Nerve damage is usually permanent, so if you think you may have sustained nerve damage from a dog bite, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. 


Finally, some dog bites result in scarring. Though scars may not pose a physical threat, they can be emotionally devastating, particularly if they are visible on the face or other areas of the body that are typically left uncovered. If you have been left with scars from a dog bite, there are treatments available that can help reduce their appearance. 

Arizona Dog Bites Are Governed by Strict Liability

n Arizona, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. This means that if you’ve been bitten by a dog, the owner is automatically responsible, regardless of whether the owner knew the dog was dangerous. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. If you were trespassing on the owner’s property or provoking the dog, then the owner may not be held liable. 

If you’re not sure whether you have a case, it’s always best to speak with an experienced Phoenix dog bite attorney who can evaluate your claim and advise you of your options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.