Monday, June 11, 2007

Prevention of Dog Bites

I saw a young girl recently with a dog bite to her face. Her mother brought her in for me to check the scar (and remove the stitches placed in their local ER). The third full week of May is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, but it never hurts to review this information as more than 4.7 million people a year receive bites from man/woman’s best friend (and I dearly love my dogs).

Each year, nearly 1 million Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children. Most dog bite-related injuries occur in children 5-9 years of age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children 4 yrs or younger are to the head or neck region. Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem, and adults and children can learn to reduce their chances of being bitten.
Basic safety around dogs:
• Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
• Do not run from a dog and scream.
• Remain motionless (“be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
• If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (“be still like a log”).
• A child should not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
• A child should immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
• Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
• Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
• Do not a pet a dog without asking permission from its owner first.
• Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

Things to consider before adding a dog to your household:
• Learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household.
• Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.
• If your child is fearful or apprehensive around dogs, then don’t get one. it will not make the child less fearful.
• Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into the home of an infant or toddler.
• Spay/neuter virtually all dogs (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies).
• Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
• Do not play aggressive games with your dog (e.g. wrestling).
• Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g. rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food without growling.
• Immediately seek professional advice (e.g. from veterinarians or animal trainers) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Excellent points, all of them. My dog was already on the geriatric side when kids came into my life, and by the time the second one came, he had maybe six teeth left.

He was also a mere 10 lbs (chihuahua-terrier-poodle mix).

Since his passing about six weeks ago, we've discussed how long we're waiting to get another dog. Our younger child is only four, so we're waiting two more years until he's a bit more mature.

A dog is not a toy, even if it is a tiny breed. I wish more people would remember that.