Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality published a study in 2010 showing that the number of Americans hospitalized for dog bites almost doubled over a 15-year period.

Study highlights

  • In 2008, about 316,200 ED visits involved a dog bite, a rate of 103.9 visits per 100,000 population. Approximately 9,500 hospital stays involved a dog bite, a rate of 3.1 stays per 100,000 population.
  • Males were seen in the ED at a higher rate for dog bites (110.4 per 100,000) than were females (97.8 per 100,000), while there were no gender differences in dog bite-related hospital stays.
  • The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay.
  • Over 40 percent of ED visits and inpatient stays that involved a dog bite were billed to private insurance (44.7 and 42.9 percent, respectively).
  • Nearly three-quarters of dog bite-related ED visits were for patients 44 and younger (73.1 percent), while only about half (51.1 percent) of dog bite-related hospital stays were for this age group.
  • There were 4 times as many dog bite-related ED visits and 3 times as many hospital stays in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Dog bite-related ED visits were highest in the Midwest (109.9 visits per 100,000 population) and Northeast (108.5 visits) and lowest in the West (93.0 visits), while dog bite-related hospitalizations were highest in the Northeast (3.9 stays per 100,000 population) and lowest in the West (2.5 stays). These differences are similar to all injuries.
  • Common principal diagnoses for dog bite-related hospitalizations included skin and subcutaneous tissue infections; open wounds of extremities; open wounds of head, neck, and trunk; and fractures of upper limbs.
Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008, by Laurel Holmquist, M.A. and Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD., November 2010.