Friday, July 10, 2015

Preventing Dog Bites

As the weather heats up for summer and your family is spending more time outside, it's important to teach kids about how to stay safe around dogs. Dog bites are a serious health issue, especially for children. Dog bite injuries were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury in children ages 0-14 in America during the last five years.

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"Even the friendliest dog may bite when startled or surprised. Be cautious: once a child is scarred, they are scarred for life," said Dr. Gregory R.D. Evans. "Most children love dogs and like to put their faces up close to the dog's face. Parents should never permit this. Injuries to the face and hands can be disfiguring or disabling and require prompt, expert medical attention."

If you are thinking about getting a dog, choose one that will fit in well with your family. Wait until your child is mature enough to care for the animal (usually age five or six). Children need to be able to distinguish an animal from a toy so the child doesn't provoke a bite through teasing or mistreatment. A pet with a gentle disposition is best.

Teach your child to not put her face close to the dog, not to tease the dog, not to run past a dog, and not to disturb the dog while it's sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Also teach your child how to greet a dog: stand still while the dog sniffs her, then slowly extend her hand to pet the dog. Never leave a child alone with a dog. For more tips to keep in mind when getting a pet, click here.
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If you or your child is bitten by a dog, follow these steps:

  • Rinse the area with soapy water.
  • Elevate the affected limb(s).
  • Apply pressure to deeper wounds. Then wash, dry, and cover with a sterile dressing.
  • Call your child's physician to see if antibiotics or a tetanus shot is needed and also to help you report the incident.
  • If the bite is severe, go to the emergency room.
There are many benefits that can result from children being raised with pets, but it is important to pay appropriate attention to safety and education to help keep both child and pet safe! For more info, check out this brochure: American Academy of Pediatrics "What You Should Know About Dog Bite Prevention"

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