AMERICAN insurance companies have warned dog owners to put a muzzle on their animal or face the prospect of rising household insurance premiums as they report record payouts for dog bites, USA Today has reported.

Incredibly more than 30 per cent of all household liability claims settled in the USA in 2011 were because of incidents of dog biting. The accumulated cost of those payouts reached a staggering $479million during the 12-month period, with State Farm, the largest provider of household insurance in the USA, paying out $109million on almost 4,000 dog-bite claims.

Analysis conducted by the Insurance Information Institute revealed that the average cost of dog-bite claims in the USA in 2011 rose by almost 54 per cent to $29,396 when compared to 2004, when the average settlement cost insurers $19,162.

The increased cost of a biting is partly put down to people wanting advanced medical treatment for bite wounds, Bob Skow, CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa, told USA Today: "Forty years ago, a kid got bit, Mom and Dad didn't take him to a plastic surgeon," he said. "Nowadays they do."