Monday, April 6, 2009

Dog Bite Injuries – Children Most at Risk

Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. and it was easier than checking each one. 

If you have spent much time here at my blog, you know I love my dogs.  I have sewn up many wounds / lacerations due to dog bites, so I have no illusions that dogs won’t bite.  They do and children are the ones most at risk of those injuries. 
That fact has been reinforced in a recently published study in the March issue of the journal Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.  The study also indicates that most of these injuries occur in warmer weather, so it is time to become more watchful.
Of the 84 children with dog-bite injuries who were treated by the researchers in the study, the average age was 6 years (ranged from 10 months to 19 years).  Approximately half of the injured children were 4 years old or younger.
The family pet was to blame in 27% of the cases. The most common areas injuries were to the cheek (34%) and the lips (21%). Dog bites are considered contaminated wound injuries, but the study found that wound healing was excellent in most of the cases. Infections were infrequent.
It is important for parents to teach their children how to treat dogs. It is important for us dog owners to teach our dogs obedience.  It is reported that neutered dogs are less likely to bite.
Each year, nearly 1 million Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children.  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.

Head and neck dog bites in children; Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Volume 140, Issue 3, Pages 354-357 (March 2009); Angelo Monroy, MDac, Philomena Behar, MDac, Mark Nagy, MDab, Christopher Poje, MDac, Michael Pizzuto, MDac, Linda Brodsky, MDabc
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Dog Bite Prevention; Suture for a Living, June 7, 2009
American Kennel Club


Penny Sanford Fikes said...

Excellent post! I'm a life-long dog owner and dog lover. We adopt rescued Westies from abused backgrounds.

Bites happen, most of the time because my arm, hand or leg is in the path of one dog reprimanding another dog. It is important not to overly reprimand or discipline a dog for a "proximity bite".

Our dogs have learned from and responded well to wise human response to an accidental bite.

Victoria said...

Thanks for this reminder. As the owner of a feisty 4 pound Yorkie, this is much needed information. My Gracie is a favorite of young children due to her size, but it is her size that makes her a bit nervous and apt to bite. While she doesn't pack much of a bite, children should still beware.