Seeking medical care for dog bite injuries is a common event, 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. Experts agree that many of the dog bites that occur 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.
It's also critical to teach all children proper behavior and safety around dogs, whether or not you have pets. The following tips are recommended by the CDC for teaching young children about safety measures around dogs:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog and scream.
- Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., "be still like a log").
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- 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 pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care
REFERENCE: CDC.gov. Dog bite prevention.