Even dogs that have reputations for being good with children may behave unpredictably or aggressively. As a result, more than 50% of dog attacks in the U.S. involve kids. When dogs bite youngsters, they also often cause bodily injuries that require immediate medical care.
Because of the risk of infection, young bite victims should receive a full medical evaluation even if they appear mostly fine after an attack. Likewise, children may need psychological care to treat the emotional injuries that are common with vicious dog bites.
While dog attacks are inherently stressful events at any age, children may suffer greater emotional trauma than adults. In fact, it is not rare for a child or adolescent to develop cynophobia, a clinical fear of dogs, after a bite. Because dogs have become increasingly commonplace in modern society, cynophobia may interfere with everyday activities for an afflicted child.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
PTSD occurs when a person cannot psychologically move past a traumatic experience. If children develop PTSD after a dog attack, they may have nightmares or flashbacks. They may also develop depression, anxiety or other serious mental health conditions.
Due to the popularity of social media, movies, television and magazines, children often experience shame about their bodies. Body dysmorphia is more serious. With this condition, kids cannot keep themselves from obsessing over physical defects. Regrettably, the scars develop after a dog attack may be enough to cause kids to develop body dysmorphia.
Even though dog attacks can be psychologically devastating for children, mental health professionals have a variety of treatment options and coping mechanisms. To ensure kids receive the care they need, caring parents may have little choice but to pursue financial compensation from the dog’s owner or handler.