TIPS ON PREVENTING DOG BITES
Warmer months are ahead and that means spending more time outdoors with our fur babies. Walks, hikes, dog parks, and dog-friendly venues are great ways for both you and your pups to enjoy the sunshine, while getting in a bit of exercise.
Encounters with people, including young children and other dogs during these outings, is inevitable. As you venture out alone, or with your pet, be proactive when it comes to dog bite prevention!
Here are a few facts to consider:
- The CDC reports that around 5 million people per year suffer from dog bites.
- Did you know about 25 people per year die of dog bites?
- All dogs, regardless of the breed, can be a bite risk.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Good question! If you think dogs bite simply out of aggression, this is not true. Generally, dogs bite for a few different reasons:
- Accidental bites may come from excitement
- Territory (dogs may bite as a sign of protection)
- Sickness or pain (if a dog is suffering from an injury or sickness, they may bite as a way of fighting back from your touch)
Warning Signs of a Potential Dog Bite
Dogs are smart! They will give you signs that they may be uncomfortable with your presence, or that of your dog. Be mindful of the following warning signs:
- showing their teeth, or growling
- hair raised
- ears pulled back
- aggressively staring
Children and Dogs
One great rule of thumb is to NEVER, under any circumstances, leave a small child alone with a dog. Injuries to a child from dog aggression tends to be more severe.
Teach your children how to act around dogs:
- never allow your child to pet a strange dog without permission
- avoid allowing them to play aggressive games with the dog (tug-of-war and/or wrestling)
- teach them to pet gently
- warn them about disrupting the dog while sleeping and/or eating
Venturing Out Alone
So, you are on your morning walk, or jog. You encounter a cute doggie along the way. Your first instinct is to rush to that pup for a pet, not thinking of a potential bite. Consider the following before you do:
- Always, always, always ask the pet owner if it’s ok to pet their dog
- Never approach a dog that is tethered
- Never, never, never run toward a dog
- Always approach a dog from the front or side (never from the back)
- Allow the dog to sniff you first before petting
- Read the dog’s body language
- If you encounter an unleashed dog, do NOT run! (try to remain calm and do NOT make eye contact)
- If a dog knocks you down, curl into a ball and protect your head and face with your hands
- If you, or your child suffers a bite from a strange dog, be sure to gather as much information about the dog (vaccination records will be crucial during treatment)
Venturing Out with Your Pup
Remember, all animals, including your fur baby, can be unpredictable! It’s just as likely that your dog could potentially bite another dog, and vice-versa.
As you take Fido on an adventure to a dog-friendly venue, know your dog’s temperament around people and other dogs. If you have an aggressive dog, be mindful where you take him. Additionally, if your dog stresses in public situations, you may want to avoid busy, noisy spaces.
What to Do If Your Dog Suffers a Bite
First and foremost, STAY CALM! Assess the bite and condition of your dog. Remove the dog from the situation as soon as possible. If your dog is injured and you must carry him, be cautious.
Regardless of the severity, the dog bite should be addressed by your veterinarian.
Additionally, try and gather as much information from the pet owner about the dog. Vaccination records can be vital for treatment.
Also, obtain contact information. If the bite took place on the owner’s property, the cost of treatment may be covered under a homeowners insurance policy.
Although dog bites are not entirely avoidable, as pet owners, we all need to take a proactive approach when it comes to helping avoid dog bites.
The more you know, the more responsible pet owner you can be!