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PTSD after a Dog Attack

By Matt Lalande in Dog Attacks on January 06, 2023

PTSD after a Dog Attack

In Canada, dog attacks happen at an alarming rate every year. In the province of Ontario for example, it’s estimated that roughly 5000 people are attacked and bitten by dogs each year. Dog attacks can be a traumatic experience for those who have experienced them. Not only is there the physical harm that can occur during an attack, but also fear, anxiety and emotional trauma from the experience. Victims of dog attacks may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the fear and shock associated with being attacked. Additionally, long-term pain or disability may result from a dog attack due to damage to the skin, bones or muscles.

If you or a loved one has a dog attack or a dog bite, a dog attack lawyer can provide legal assistance and advice on what can be done in the aftermath of a dog attack. They can provide insight into how to seek justice best, and can even help the victim obtain financial compensation for any physical injuries, medical bills and psychological trauma suffered as a result of the dog attack. Since 2003, Hamilton Dog Bite and Dog Attack Lawyer Matt Lalande has been representing dog attack victims and their families in recovering the compensation that they deserve after a dog attack.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which can result from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Common symptoms associated with PTSD may include recurring intrusive memories or flashbacks, avoidance of certain activities, thoughts, people, or places connected to the trauma, disturbances in mood regulation, sleep disturbances such as nightmares, negative changes in self-perception and cognition, as well as hypervigilance for perceived threats. It is important to note that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD; however it can be beneficial to seek treatment if any symptoms are experienced.

How is PTSD normally diagnosed?

A diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) depends on an individual exhibiting certain symptoms for at least one month. These will typically include flashbacks, bad dreams, an avoidance of certain activities or places that may trigger traumatic memories, persistent negative beliefs about oneself or the world, and difficulty concentrating, being easily startled or feeling tense in general. Psychiatrists and psychologists diagnose PTSD using criteria outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM 5), through comprehensive clinical interviews with patients. A diagnosis is reached after careful consideration of an individual’s history and specific mental health concerns. Once diagnosis is confirmed, different treatment methods can be considered to help address a patient’s needs.

How do dog attacks results in PTSD?

Dog attacks can cause serious physical injuries, in some cases leading to permanent impairment or even death. Dog bites often result in lacerations, bruises, and fractures, but depending on the size and strength of the dog and the nature of the attack, more severe outcomes may occur. Deep muscle trauma, organ damage and nerve injury are also possible outcomes of dog attacks that can have lasting effects. If a dog attack is suspected, it is important to seek urgent medical attention as soon as possible. Some of the more common physical injuries associated from a dog attack are:

Scratches and bruises: this can range from a small dog bite to scratches and bruises inflicted by a dog’s paws or tail. Even a smaller breed of dog can inflict considerable harm and damage if the dog attack is severe enough.

Internal injuries: in more serious dog attacks, individuals may suffer internal injuries. A dog bite from a dog with sharp teeth can cause a considerable amount of damage and scarring; sustained in an area of the body with more soft tissue, such as the arm, face or legs, internal injuries can include damaged muscles, organs and even broken bones.

Lacerations: differing from scratches in the degree of severity, dog attacks can lead to deep lacerations which may require stitches or surgery. A dog bite can sever skin and tissue, leading to an infection or significant scarring. There are even cases of nerve endings being damaged from dog attacks, resulting in a loss of feeling or mobility.

Puncture wounds: dog bites often leave behind puncture wounds due to the dog’s sharp teeth. These dog bite wounds can cause significant damage internally and externally and have the potential to become infected. Unvaccinated dogs also pose the risk of communicating diseases such as rabies.

Disfigurement: dog attacks can leave lasting psychological and physical scars. Depending on the dog breed, size and strength, dog bites can cause facial disfigurement or extensive scarring. In addition to the physical pain and necessary lengthy recovery, dog attack victims are often left with emotional distress associated with the dog attack. Attacks to the face, which make up roughly 25% of dog bites, can also leave a lasting psychological impact to dog attack survivors.

For many people, however, dog attacks can do more than just cause physical scars; they can also create acute feelings of anxiety or even leave lasting psychological damage. In extreme cases this damage could manifest in PTSD type symptoms which significantly impact quality of life. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), PTSD is characterized by recurrent intrusive memories, avoidance behaviors, negative moods, anxiety and arousal. These symptoms can range in intensity and duration but any dog attack survivor should consider speaking to a mental health professional if they feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with the traumatic experience long after it has occurred.

Signs and symptoms of PTSD after a dog attack

While the physical injuries from dog bites and attacks are often the first concern immediately after a dog attack, and rightfully so, PTSD is a serious consequence of dog attacks that cannot be overlooked. There are a number of different PTSD symptoms that can manifest in dog attack survivors:

Anxiety: dog attack survivors may experience increased levels of anxiety, including fear and panic when faced with dog-related situations. This condition can be triggered by the sound of a dog barking, the sight of a dog, or memories and thoughts related to the dog attack.

Flashbacks: dog attack survivors may experience flashbacks related to the dog attack or feel anxious when facing dogs in general. They may have a strong reaction when approaching the spot of the attack, places where dogs are present such as dog parks or pet stores, or any other dog-related activity.

Insomnia: dog attack survivors may experience difficulty in sleeping due to recurring nightmares, intrusive thoughts and/or flashbacks related to the dog attack.

Anger: dog attack survivors often feel intense anger and resentment towards dogs, the dog’s owner or the situation. They may also experience feelings of anger towards themselves for not being able to prevent the dog attack or for not being able to protect themselves during the attack.

Depression: dog attack survivors may experience depression or have difficulty sleeping after a dog attack. The onset of depression can be the result of feelings of anger or self-loathing, fear and/or anxiety, or physical pain associated with the dog attack.

On their own, these symptoms are concerning, but when dog attack survivors experience them in conjunction with one another, it is a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms fall into three categories of observable traits that people experiencing PTSD after a dog attack may have: 

Re-experiencing: dog attack survivors may re-live the dog attack through flashbacks, which cause them to feel as though they are reliving the dog attack. Nightmares and frightening thoughts can also occur.

Avoidance: dog attack survivors may actively avoid dog-related situations or experiences due to their trauma and feelings, which can even result in them avoiding contact with friends and family who may inadvertently trigger dog-related memories.

Increased arousal: dog attack survivors can have difficulty sleeping, become jumpy or easily scared, and be prone to outbursts of anger.

It is important to note that PTSD can vary from person to person and that dog attack survivors may not be immediately aware of the signs and symptoms. Some may even deny their suffering and try to cover up their symptoms. Identifying the symptoms of PTSD following a dog bite or dog attack is the first step toward accurately diagnosing someone suffering from PTSD.

The impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a dog attack on children

Breaking down the number of Canadians who have suffered a dog attack by age group, children are consistently one of the groups at the highest risk and is consistently one of the leading causes of non-fatal emergency room visits in children. In 2021, over 15,000 dog bites were reported to Canadian animal control agencies by children under the age of 10.

Children suffering from a dog attack face specific challenges due to their age. Children can be more prone to dog bite lacerations due to the fact that they are small and may approach a dog without understanding the dog’s body language. This puts them at a higher risk of dog bites and dog attacks.

In addition, dog attacks can have a significantly greater impact on children’s mental and physical health than adults. PTSD in children is referred to as “childhood trauma” and can still have a harmful effect on a child’s emotional and physical development. A child survivor of a dog attack can develop PTSD which can follow them for the rest of their life, with symptoms such as nightmares, irritability, hypervigilance and difficulty trusting people.

No matter the age of the dog attack victim, it is important to seek medical treatment and legal advice as soon as possible following a dog attack. Dog bite lawyers can provide dog attack victims with the assistance they need to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. When dog attack victims are children, dog bite lawyers can provide invaluable support for families to ensure that the dog attack victim is able to receive the psychological and physical care they need. 

Suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of a dog attack?

No matter the circumstances, dog attacks are a serious concern that can have long-term psychological repercussions for those affected, especially PTSD. PTSD is, unfortunately, not an uncommon outcome of dog attacks and needs to be addressed as quickly as it can be accurately diagnosed. Suffering from PTSD can affect someone’s ability to work and interact with family, friends, and society.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious dog attack or have suffered a serious dog bite, call Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers today, toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Hamilton / Burlington area at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form on our website today. Hamilton Dog Bite and Dog Attack Lawyer Matt Lalande would be more than happy to provide you and your family a free consultation and free case evaluation and inform you of your legal rights as a dog attack victim and your options concerning yourdog btie injuries and losses. Remember, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that if we don’t win, you don’t pay.

FAQ

Are dog bites in kids common in Canada?

Yes, yog bite injuries are consistently one of the leading causes of non-fatal emergency room visits in children in Canada.

Can someone develop PTSD after a dog attack?

Yes, dog attack survivors can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their experience. It is important to seek help and support from dog bite lawyers and psychological professionals to address the symptoms of PTSD and receive justice for what you have endured.

Is it common for children to suffer dog attacks?

Children are consistently one of the groups at highest risk when it comes to dog attacks – over 15,000 dog bites were reported to Canadian animal control agencies by children under the age of 10 in 2021 alone.

What can dog bite lawyers do to help dog attack victims?

Dog bite lawyers are experienced in dog attacks and can provide dog attack victims with the legal advice they need to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Dog bite lawyers can also provide invaluable support for dog attack victims and their families to ensure they receive the emotional and physical care they need.

What should I do if I think I am suffering from PTSD after a dog attack?

If you or someone you know has been a dog attack victim, it is important to seek medical treatment and legal advice as soon as possible. Dog bite lawyers can provide dog attack victims with the assistance they need to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

How do I find a dog bite Lawyer?

Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers is an experienced dog bite law firm in Ontario. Our dog bite lawyers have been helping dog attack victims across Ontario get the compensation they need for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering since 2003. Contact us today to learn more.

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