Animal attacks are traumatizing events for any age. It is especially difficult for children to understand the change in behaviors that takes a friendly dog into a vicious threat.
Dog bite victims often deal with physical wounds and permanent scars. However, there are emotional scars that may not get the attention or treatment needed.
Emotional trauma from a dog bite
Canines are protective creatures, despite moments of being cuddly and playful. A dog bite is not always provoked or expected. The immediate physical response to the pain and terror of a dog that is attacking is the body’s fight or flight or response. This is the adrenaline surge that spurs the body into action to run or defend itself. However, these events can also trigger mental health responses that do not go away. There are several mental health conditions that can develop from the severe trauma of a dog bite. These include:
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Cynophobia (the fear of dogs)
- Agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house)
It is common for children to suffer from PTSD after a dog-biting incident, and this condition could remain throughout the child’s life. Living with cynophobia or agoraphobia can severely impact a person’s quality of life.
Risk of permanent trauma from a dog bite
The more serious the dog bite, the greater the risk of developing one of these trauma-related conditions. Children also have a higher risk of lasting trauma.
Mental health concerns are common for victims of a dog bite. Counseling is often a way to deal with the trauma from the situation.