May 15-22, 2016 is Dog Bite Prevention Week®.
Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the US are bitten by dogs. Of the 800,000 who seek medication attention, half are children.
Since most dog bites involve familiar animals, prevention starts at the home.
The American Pediatric Association gives the following tips on preventing dog bites:
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention. For children, the injuries are more likely to be serious. Parents should be aware of some simple steps that can prevent dog bites.
- Never leave a small child and a dog alone together, no matter if it is the family dog, a dog that is known to you, or a dog that you have been assured is well behaved. Any dog can bite.
- Do not allow your child to play aggressive games with a dog, such as tug-of-war or wrestling, as this can lead to bites.
- Teach your child to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any dog.
- Let a dog sniff you or your child before petting, and stay away from the face or tail. Pet the dog gently, and avoid eye contact, particularly at first.
- Never bother a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Dogs in these situations are more likely to respond aggressively, even with a person who is familiar to them.
- Do not allow your child to run past a dog, because dogs may be tempted to pursue the child.
- Teach your child that if a dog is behaving in a threatening manner—for example, growling and barking—to remain calm, avoid eye contact with the dog, and back away slowly until the dog loses interest and leaves.
- If you or your child is knocked over by a dog, curl up in a ball and protect the eyes and face with arms and fists.
For more information and what to do if a dog bites your child, visit healthychildren.org.