California is #1 in the nation for dog bite injury claims

There are about 330 million people and approximately 80 million dogs living in the U.S., so it’s not surprising that not all interactions between the two are friendly.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), more than 4.5 million people – mostly children – are bitten by dogs every year.

A new report from the III and State Farm puts California at the top of the list of states for dog bite injury claims. The insurer paid out $26.1 million last year – more than double the amount paid out in #2 Illinois. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan rounded out the top five states in 2020 dog-related injury claims.

Dogs can bite when . . .

Experts say that dogs can bite in stressful situations and when they feel threatened. They can also bite when they’ve been startled or frightened.

The III and State Farm say the pandemic has indirectly stressed dogs who have picked up on their owners’ worrying and anxiety. For some dogs, the increased stress around the home has resulted in anxious barking or aggressive behavior.

2020’s worst month

The insurer paid nearly $157 million in 3,185 dog-related injury claims last year. The month with the most claims and amount paid? March, when California became the first state to issue a stay-at-home order, and when the federal government declared the pandemic a national emergency.

Now, with millions of vaccinations every day, people are beginning to return to workplaces and schools. The III cautions that the shift in where pet owners and families physically spend their days could result in additional pet anxiety and behavioral challenges that could lead to a surge in dog-bite incidents.

Experts say that if you’re bitten, and the bite is deep or you can’t stop the bleeding, see a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room. Also, get medical attention if the wound shows signs of infection.