Regardless of the victim’s age, a dog attack has the potential to cause catastrophic physical injuries. Still, a person’s automatic stress response may delay the onset of injury symptoms. Consequently, even if it seems your child has few or no injuries from a dog bite, it is wise to seek emergency medical treatment.
While your child’s physical health may be your top priority initially, you cannot forget about the tremendous psychological harm dog bites often cause young ones. Here are three ways a dog attack may psychologically change your child forever.
1. A clinical fear of dogs
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, roughly 40% of U.S. households have at least one dog. If your son or daughter develops cynophobia, a clinical fear of dogs, after an attack, he or she may struggle with navigating everyday life. This may be especially true if your child enjoys spending time outdoors or in public spaces where others tend to take their dogs.
2. Body image issues
When dogs attack, they often bite visible parts of the body. If your child has scars on his or her face, neck, arms or legs, he or she may develop body image issues. Body dysmorphia, for example, causes individuals to obsess over what they perceive to be physical defects or flaws. This condition may lead to self-mutilation, social anxiety or other serious problems.
3. Post-traumatic stress disorder
The stress of a dog attack may cause your child to experience flashbacks, nightmares or severe anxiety. While therapy and medication can help to minimize these and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, your son or daughter may have to learn to cope.
While addressing bite-related physical injuries can be expensive, you may have to deal with the expenses of your child’s psychological treatment for years. Fortunately, you may be able to pursue financial compensation from the dog’s owner to help cover these costs.