March 2, 2009

Dog bites increase with higher temperature

There is a correlation between cases of dog bites and rising temperatures, U.S. researchers suggest.

The researchers -- Dr. Angelo Monroy, Dr. Philomena Behar, Dr. Mark Nagy, Dr. Christopher Poje, Dr. Michael Pizzuto and Dr. Linda Brodsky -- all of Buffalo, N.Y., evaluated 84 cases of dog bites in children over an eight-year period. The study authors found that most injuries were caused by family pets -- 27 percent -- with a high frequency of injuries occurring during the summer months.

While the reason for this is unknown, the authors suggest it may be because of children spending time outdoors playing with dogs in the warmer temperatures, or due to a general increase in the irritability of dogs during the warmer months.

The study, published in the journal Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, finds 34 percent of the bites were to the cheeks, 21 percent of the bites were to the lips and 8 percent were to the nose and ears. Pit bulls were the breed most commonly cited as the cause for the attack, the study says.

It is estimated that 1 percent of all hospital emergency room visits can be attributed to dog bite injuries, including 44,000 annual cases of facial injuries in the United States alone.