The Changing Epidemiology of Dog Bite Injuries in the United States, 2005–2018
Using federal and state dog bite-related injury data, this study provides contemporary data on the incidence of dog bite injuries in the United States and in New York from 2005 to 2018.
- This study provides contemporary data on the incidence of dog bite injuries in the United States and in New York and profiles individuals treated for dog bites in New York to describe individuals who are most at risk. The study examines longitudinal data on dog bite injuries from 2005 to 2018 collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (WISQARS). For New York, the study analyzes data collected by the New York State Department of Health. The study also provides data on the changing composition of the dog-owning population to help explain the epidemiological findings.
- National data trends - In the United States, the rate of dog-bite injuries increased from 2005 to 2012 and then underwent an overall decline. Injuries continue to be more prevalent among school-age children (0-14 years old) and males (0-14 years old). During the 13-year period, the rates of the two youngest age groups (0 to 9, 10–19) fell after 2012, yet the opposite pattern occurred for the two older age groups (20-44, 45 and older), which steadily increased over the 13-year period.
- New York state data trends - The results of a negative binomial regression analysis of patient records from New York showed that the frequency of dog bite injuries in New York state increased from 2005 to 2012 and then from 2013 to 2018 decreased. This trend mirrors the results observed at the national level. Residents of New York state outside of New York City were also more likely to be treated in an ED for a dog bite than residents of the city, which reflects a greater prevalence of dog bite injuries in less densely populated areas. This relationship between injury rate and population density was most pronounced at the county level.
- New York City United Health Fund Districts (2015-2017) - The study also reviewed the percentage of dogs identified as pit bulls in the 42 UHF districts and the percent of dogs spay/neutered. Of the breeds identified in the data set (84.6%), pit bulls were the most common (33.6%), followed by shih tzu (5.3%), chihuahua (5.2%), and German shepherd (4.1%). This finding is consistent with previous research showing that pit bulls are responsible for more bites than any other dog breed. Of the self-reported dog bite cases, 29.1% were classified as spayed or neutered. The results of this study indicate that poorer neighborhoods were associated with a higher proportion of dogs which were pit bulls and a higher proportion of dogs which had not been sterilized.
- Changing profile of dog owners in the United States - Over the last decade, surveys of dog owners show that the age distribution of dog owners has skewed upwards. In 2008, 26.1% of dog owners fell into the age category of 55 to 74; by 2018, the number of owners in this age category rose to 31.5%. Dog ownership among Hispanics rose from 9.5% in 2008 to 15.1% in 2018. The number of children in households -- ages 0-5 years, 6-11 years, and 12-17 years -- fell during the period as well.