Dog Bite Prevention

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Over 800,000 Americans seek medical care for dog bite injuries each year, and about half of dog bite victims are children. Children between the ages of five and nine are most likely to be bitten by dogs, and boys are more likely to be bitten than girls. Home service providers (such as postal carriers) and the elderly are also at increased risk for dog bites. On average, 12 victims of dog bites die each year in the U.S. Experts agree that many of the 4.5 million dog bites occurring each year in the U.S. could be prevented by enhanced public education measures.

Those interested in acquiring a dog as a pet can speak with a veterinarian or dog breeder about characteristics of different dog breeds to help determine which dog breeds might be appropriate for your family. Prospective dog owners should always spend time with a dog before making a commitment and be sensitive to children's reactions to the dog and any potential fears. Families with infants or small children should never leave any dog alone with the child at any time. Playing aggressive games (such as wrestling) with your dog should also be avoided.

To help prevent the possibility of dog bites, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) further recommends that dog owners train and properly socialize their pets so that they are at ease around people and other animals, spending time with pets so that your dog does not feel lonely or anxious, and keeping pets physically healthy.