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Hospital Admissions for Dog Bites Increase 86 Percent Over a 16-Year Period

AHRQ News and Numbers, December 1, 2010

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

The number of people admitted to the hospital because of dog bites increased by 86 percent—from 5,100 to 9,500 hospital stays—between 1993 and 2008, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

On average, 866 people had to go to the emergency department daily and 26 people, on average, were admitted to the hospital daily for treatment of dog bites in 2008.

Data from the Federal agency also found that in 2008:

  • Seniors and young children were most likely to be hospitalized for a dog bite. For 65-84 year olds, there were 4.5 hospital stays per 100,000 people, for people age 85 and older, there were 4.2 stays per 100,000 and for children under 5 there were 4 stays per 100,000.
  • Compared with urban residents, people in rural areas made 4 times as many emergency department visits for dog bites in 2008 (119 visits per 100,000 people versus 29 visits per 100,000 people). Rural residents also had 3 times as many hospital admissions (nearly 3 stays per 100,000 rural residents versus less than 1 stay per 100,000 urban residents).
  • About 43 percent of people hospitalized for dog bites required treatment for skin and underlying tissue infection; 22 percent had wounds of the legs or arms; 10.5 percent had wounds of the head, neck and torso; and the remaining patients had problems ranging from bone fracture to blood poisoning.
  • More than half (58 percent) of all people who were hospitalized required a procedure such as wound debridement, sutures, and skin grafts.
  • Treating patients admitted for dog bites cost hospitals an average of $18,200 per patient and $54 million overall.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays involving Dog Bites, 2008 (PDF file, Plugin Software Help). The report uses data from the agency's 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) and 1993-2008 data from its Nationwide Inpatient Sample. For information about these two AHRQ databases, go to

For more information, contact Bob Isquith at (301-427-1539).

Page last reviewed December 2010
Internet Citation: Hospital Admissions for Dog Bites Increase 86 Percent Over a 16-Year Period: AHRQ News and Numbers, December 1, 2010. December 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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