Are Older Dogs More Prone To Bite?

April 24, 2024
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If you’ve ever had an aging dog you know that they start to slow down as they get older. Just like humans, older dogs lose a little bit of the pep in their step that they had when they were younger. Many people think that this means that they are less likely to instigate a New Haven dog bite injury, but that is not always the case. While there is no hard and fast rule on whether older dogs are more or less likely to bite, there are some reasons why they might bite, even if they know better.

When you’re approaching an older dog you should always continue to take safety precautions whether you think the dog is more or less likely to bite. You should never approach a dog from behind and startle him. You do not want to make sudden movements toward the dog. If the dog is showing visible signs of irritation like panting and growling you will want to avoid interacting with him. These are all safety steps you should take when you are thinking about interacting with a dog no matter how old the dog is or what breed the dog is.

When thinking about whether an older dog is more likely to bite then a younger dog it’s important to also remember that an older dogs bite might cause a more significant injury then that of a puppy or younger dog. Puppies or younger dogs often have smaller and less aggressive teeth then older dogs do and they also often do not have the same amount of strength to bite down as hard as older dogs. That’s why you will often hear people describe a puppy that bit them as having nipped them and not really taken a bite. Of course, a nip from a puppy can cause an injury, but more significant injuries are often the result of a bite from an older dog.

There are a number of characteristics that may make an older dog more likely to bite you then a younger dog may be. You should keep an eye out of these characteristics so you are not caught off guard expecting an older dog to not be a biting hazard.

1.) Diminished hearing and eye sight. While it can be hard to tell whether a dog’s hearing or eye sight has been diminished, this lack of senses can be a serious issue for the dog. If he cannot hear or see you it is more likely that when you approach you will startle the dog. As mentioned above, startling a dog is one way to put yourself at risk of having a dog bite injury. In order to avoid this, before reaching out to pet the dog you should gently put your hand down and let the dog approach you. He will be able to use his sense of smell to determine that you are safe.

2.) Cognitive decline. You hear people talk about aging humans as having to battle with things like Alzheimer’s but the truth is that dogs can battle this degenerative disease as well. If a dog is battling with cognitive decline he may not remember where he is or remember you, even if you are familiar to him. This increases the likelihood that the animal will become aggressive towards you, even if you’ve interacted with him multiple times before because he doesn’t recognize you. To combat this you will want to give the dog constant reminders of who you are and that you are safe and again, let the animal approach you first.

3.) Aches and pains. Dogs suffer from aches and pains just like humans do as they get older. If you’ve ever experienced this yourself you know these aches and pains can make you feel out of sorts. When dogs feel this way they can sometimes become more aggressive and if you touch them in a spot that is particularly uncomfortable they may bite to get you to stop touching them in the part of their body that hurts the most. For this reason you will also want to avoid rough housing with older dogs who may have sensitive spots on their bodies.

While puppies may be more likely to bite, the New Haven dog bite injury you may experience from a puppies bite may be surface level. When an older dog is disturbed or in pain a bite can be quite significant and cause you, the human, an injury that may require medical care and a longer recovery then just a surface level injury. While not all older dogs will become aggressive it is important to remember that when they are uncomfortable and uncertain of their surrounding they will more then likely become aggressive and that’s when trouble may arise.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, regardless of the dog’s age, you may need to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact our office and one of our experienced attorneys will review your situation and work with you to protect your long-term interests.