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How To Avoid Dog Bites

Last year I didn’t write about dog bite prevention until the first week of June even though I know National Dog Bite Prevention Week is always the third full of week of May.

The numbers shared by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) haven’t changed:   4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the US with 800,000 of them requiring medical attention.

If you have read this blog for very long, you know I dearly love my dogs — deceased ones (Columbo, Ladybug (photo), and Girlfriend) and the living one, Rusty.  Still, I have no illusions that dogs bite and given the right provocation, I think mine would though most of the time they are totally harmless and would just invite you in to rob me.

Sadly, children are by far the most common victims of dog bites, occurring most often in children 5-9 years of age.  Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.

Children are also more likely to be severely injured and represent half of the dog-bite victims requiring medical attention every year.  Almost two thirds of injuries among children 4 yrs or younger are to the head or neck region.

The family pet is often to blame, so it is important for parents to teach their children how to treat dogs. It is also important to train the family dog in obedience.

Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem.  There are a number of things that you can do to avoid dog bites.

Take care in selecting a family pet.  Obedience training and socializing the pet beginning at a young age will insure the dog feels at ease around people and other animals.  Keep the dog healthy.

Don’t put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.  Teach your children not to tease the family dog or any other dog.  Neutered dogs are less likely to bite.

NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

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.


American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

American Kennel Club

United States Postal Service

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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