Dog bites are on the rise in Dayton and Montgomery County, which concerns health officials since bites can cause severe injuries, sometimes leading to permanent disfigurement or even death.
But cat bites also are increasing locally, and sometimes they can be worse.
Felines have razor-sharp teeth that can penetrate deep into the skin, and failure to treat a bite quickly can lead to infections that can lead to significant medical problems and disability.
“Occasionally we’ll have to admit these patients to the hospital for IV antibiotics and further monitoring,” said Dr. Joe Mauro, the medical director of the Miami Valley Hospital emergency department. “Occasionally they may have to go to the operating room for surgical drainage and opening up of the wound.”
Last year, there were 970 reported dog bites and 166 reported cat bites in Montgomery County, according to data from Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.
Dog bites were up more than 16%, while cat bites increased about 5%.
In Dayton, dog bites jumped more than 22% last year to 193 reports.
Cat bites in the city also rose 3% to 32 reports.
Dogs attacks have left local citizens with painful and serious wounds. Their powerful jaws and jagged teeth often cause lacerations, punctures, fractures, broken bones and permanent tissue or nerve damage.
Some attacks have been fatal.
Just last month, a 4-year-old girl was mauled to death by a pit bull in a home in the McCook Field neighborhood.
In 2017, 60-year-old Maurice Brown was mauled to death in the Old Dayton View neighborhood. Three years earlier, a 7-month-old was killed by a dog elsewhere in Dayton.
Many others who survive the attacks suffer permanent and life-changing injuries.
Dog bites are more common than cat bites, but both are serious business.
And most U.S. households own one pet or the other: There’s about 63.4 million dog households and about 42.7 million homes with cats, according to some estimates.
Cat bites are so dangerous that about one in three patients bitten on the hand by felines had to be hospitalized, according to a Mayo Clinic study of three years of data.
Cats’ fangs are very sharp and can inject bacteria deep into the joints and tissue, resulting in infection, the Mayo Clinic says.
Bites to the hand tend to be the most common area of injury, because patients usually were petting the dogs or cats or defending themselves against an attack, said Dr. Mauro, with Miami Valley Hospital.
Dog bites tend to cause more soft tissue damage, which means victims are more likely to seek out medical treatment right away, he said.
But he said victims of cat bites should wash out the wounds immediately and visit with a medical professional, generally within eight hours.
Last year, there were also 13 reported bat bites and 2 reported raccoon bites in Montgomery County.
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