May 16-22 is recognized as National Dog Bite Prevention Week. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) an estimated 4.7 million Americans will be bitten this year. The primary victims are children, the elderly, and postal workers. Annually, as many as 800,000 people require medical treatment from dog bites, and 12 people each year die from dog attacks.
So, what can we do to keep ourselves, our families and friends, and our dogs safe? The AVMA along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Postal Services have combined forces and made a brochure to help us prevent dog bites, “What you should know about Dog Bite Prevention.”
Pick a dog that is a good match for your home. Consult your veterinarian for details about the behavior of different breeds.
Socialize your pet. Gradually expose your puppy to a variety of people and other animals so it feels at ease in these situations; continue this exposure as your dog gets older.
Train your dog. Commands can build a bond of obedience and trust between owner and dog. Avoid aggressive games like wrestling or tug-of-war with your dog.
Keep your dog healthy. Vaccinate your dog against rabies and other diseases.
Neuter or spay your dog. These dogs are less likely to bite.
Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations. Be alert to signs your dog is uncomfortable or feeling aggressive.
Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
Teach children to be careful around pets. They should be taught not to approach strange dogs. They should also ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting the dog.
If a dog approaches to sniff you, stay still. Once the dog determines you are not a threat it will go away. If you wish to pet the dog, now that you are not a threat, pet it gently, avoiding the face, head, and tail.
Never bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
If a dog threatens you, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still or back away slowly until the dog leaves. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your arms and fists.
If you are bitten, there is vital information you should get. Request proof of the rabies vaccination from, the dog owner and get their name and contact information, and contact the dog’s veterinarian to verify vaccination records. Clean the bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible, and seek medical attention immediately.
Regardless of size or breed, all dogs can bite if provoked, and in many instances, a dog attack is avoidable. Responsible pet ownership is key to reducing the likelihood of a dog bite and can enhance the relationship owners have with their dog. For more information you can click here to view the brochure “What you should know about Dog Bite Prevention.”