Objective—To identify factors associated with
increased risk of being bitten by a dog or cat in a veterinary
Design—Unmatched case-control study.
Study population—207 animal caregivers.
Procedure—Case subjects (n = 75) were any caregiver
that reported being bitten by a dog or cat.
Control subjects (n = 132) were randomly selected
from a list of all caregivers interacting with dogs or
cats. Information on the characteristics of the caregivers,
characteristics of the dogs and cats, and the
nature of the interaction between the dog or cat and
the caregiver was obtained by use of self-administered
Results—Caregivers were more likely to be bitten by
dogs or cats that had warning signs on their cages
indicating the potential to bite or that were considered
difficult to handle. Caregivers interacting with
cats or with older dogs and cats were more likely to
be bitten. Only 37 to 55% of dogs and cats that had
characteristics traditionally associated with biting or
were considered likely to bite were muzzled.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Muzzling
dogs and cats should be considered more frequently.
Dogs and cats considered to have the propensity to
bite frequently do bite, and precautions, such as muzzling,
should be taken if the medical condition or conformation
of the dog or cat is amenable to this type of
restraint. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:312–316)