May 23 2013

Dog Bite Awareness Highlights from Altoona Veterinary Hospital

This week the American Veterinary Medical Association has been promoting its dog bite prevention efforts through the annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week. Over 4 million people in the United States are bitten every year with roughly 20% of them requiring medical attention. These incidents account for nearly ½ billion dollars in medical claims and made up roughly 1/3 of home liability insurance claims in 2011. Luckily, a large number of these situations can be avoided with the proper precautions and awareness of how to safely interact with our canine companions. One concerning aspect of dog bites incidents is the number of children involved. Dog bites have been reported to be the reason for 4-5% of children’s ER visits and have a high likelihood of involving the head and neck regions. We often get the opportunity to speak to school kids about dog bite prevention and the program we teach promotes these talking points with kids: First and foremost always remember that, while most dogs are good dogs, any dog can bite—Though many bites involve stray/unknown dogs, most bites involve a dog that is known by the victim. Always ask permission from the dog’s person before attempting to approach/pet a dog—Not all dogs will want attention from people/children they don’t know. If you are given permission, move slowly and allow the dog to decide if he/she wants to be petted. If the dog withdraws or appears scared/intimidated, do not continue to approach the dog. Do not bother mother animals and their young. If you are approached by a stray dog, do not run, scream, stare at, or turn your back to the dog. You should stand still with your hands at your sides and remain quiet (“Stand Like a Tree”) or slowly back away until you have gotten a safe distance away from the dog. If you are knocked down by a dog, lie with your face on the ground and cover the back of your neck while being as still and quiet as possible (“Lie Like a Log”) until the dog goes away and leaves you alone. Do not try to pet dogs that are tied up, sleeping, eating, behind fences, or in vehicles. Do not chase or tease dogs, pull their ears or tails, or grab their food, bones, or toys. Do not try to stop a fight between dogs or help an injured or sick dog. You should always get an adult to help. Always treat animals kindly and gently while respecting their desire to protect their people, places, or things. When we are speaking to adults, regardless of whether they are new puppy parents or seasoned dog owners, we try to emphasize their role in responsible pet ownership and dog bite prevention: Try to ensure your dog is well socialized and trained. This is easiest to accomplish when they are puppies, but can be worked on at any age. Do not let your dog run loose. Dogs should be contained within a properly fenced yard, kennel, run or on a leash/tie-out at all times. Avoid allowing young children to walk dogs they cannot control. If you meet children while out walking your dog, help by teaching them how to properly greet/approach a dog. Spaying/neutering can greatly reduce the aggressive tendencies in many dogs and help lower the risk of a bite occurring. Do not leave babies or young children unattended with a dog at any time. Discourage children from hugging dogs either at home or away. Not all dogs are tolerant of this kind of attention and it places the child’s face/head/neck in danger of being bitten. I hope that you all have a safe, fun, and bite-free summer with your 4-legged friends and wish you all the best of health. For more interesting dog bite awareness facts please peruse the information provided by the AVMA below:


ddaley | Uncategorized

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