Plastic Surgeons as First Responders to Dog Bite Injuries


Dr. Altman discusses plastic surgery for dog bites: watch the video or read the transcript below!

“A very complex social / economic problem can be made less painful, when the care and result of treatment of dog bites is optimized with plastic surgery.”


Dog bite injuries account for 1/3 of all homeowner insurance claims. There are approximately 4.5 million dog bites in the United States each year.  Dog bites account for 800,000 emergency room visits per year or 1% of all emergency room visits in the United States. The average cost of treating a dog bite injury in California is $56,000.00.

Pain occurs to the owners of dogs and the individuals injured by dog bite.  Fifty percent of the injured individuals are children under the age of 10 years.  Some of these injuries are devastating and can result in physical and emotional scars.  All too often, severe bites are treated by lay individuals or healthcare professionals without expertise.


Management of dog bites by plastic surgeons can minimize scars that individuals will have for a lifetime.   Plastic surgeons involved as first responders can expedite healing for the person who is injured, the dog owners who are often devastated, reduce the claim liabilities of the insurance companies, and generally improve a difficult situation for other parties involved.

In the course of my career I have managed hundreds of dog bite injuries.   Injuries have ranged from minor scrapes to severe body part amputations requiring complex reconstructive surgery performed in multiple stages.  Most times, individuals go on to heal very nicely.

Sometimes, I like to think that I am helping to mend the world’s oldest friendship, one bite at a time.

Donald Altman, M.D., M.B.A.


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