Disclosure :: This post is brought to you by our sponsors at Metairie Small Animal Hospital.
Dog Bite Prevention and Other Helpful Tips
May 15th-21st is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and unfortunately children are the most common victims. Properly training and socializing your dog, in addition to teaching children when and how to appropriately interact with dogs, are essential steps for dog bite prevention. Here are 10 ways you can prevent a dog bite:
- Don’t pet unknown animals
- Don’t approach dogs quickly
- Don’t tease with food
- Pay attention to body language, such as ears back, cowering over
- Pet gently
- Never leave small children unattended with animals, even if they are family pets
- Don’t try to pull toys away
- Don’t intervene in a dog fight
- Don’t enter yards with barking dogs
- Don’t roughhouse with unfamiliar animals, even if you are playing and have good intentions
What if all of these dog bite prevention measures fail?
Even friendly dogs can bite if they are scared and in an unfamiliar environment. What should you do if your dog does bite someone?
- Stay calm. Be sure the dog is safely contained so another bite doesn’t occur.
- If the victim’s skin is broken, have someone use First Aid to treat the wound(s). Depending upon the severity of the injuries, a trip to an urgent care facility or emergency room may be needed. This should be at the victim’s discretion. Get the name and contact information of the victim.
- Collect your dog’s vaccination records, including proof of Rabies. If you don’t have these documents handy, contact your veterinarian’s office to obtain. Rabies licenses must be renewed annually by law in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.
- Be prepared to speak with a police or animal control officer about the incident. All animal-bite cases treated by medical facilities are reported to authorities.
What should you do if your child gets bit?
- Remain calm: this will help you to accurately assess your child’s injuries. If the dog’s owner is present, be sure they have the dog adequately restrained. If it is a stray dog, instruct others to remain still and quiet if the dog is still in the area.
- Seek medical attention if skin was broken. You can use basic First Aid to superficially treat the wounds; however, bite wounds can easily become infected. Taking your child to see a doctor is your best bet.
- Report the bite to local authorities. Animal control officers will investigate the incident, and ensure the dog is current on vaccinations. If the dog has bitten your child, it may be a danger to the community and may need to be confiscated from the owner.
- Be aware of emotional trauma that may have occurred. After being bitten, some children are very wary and afraid to interact with dogs in the future. Make sure future encounters are taken slowly and end on a positive note. Small neutral exposures are better than recurring negative ones.
Our sponsors at Metairie Small Animal Hospital are committed to providing the highest quality medical and surgical care for our patients in a humane, compassionate and caring environment. They also offer 24/7 emergency care should you ever find yourself needing it.
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Dr. Joe Vaccaro was born and raised in New Orleans and attended Jesuit High School. He later attended Louisiana State University where he finished his degree in Finance. Dr. Joe moved on to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, earning his DVM in May of 2011. He then moved back to the New Orleans area and joined MSAH. Dr. Joe is interested in internal medicine, as well as soft tissue and orthopedic surgery. He is currently a member of the Southeast Louisiana Veterinary Association, Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Lindsey, his son, Jack, and his dogs, Winston and Sandie. In his spare time, Dr. Joe can be found fishing and hunting and of course, cheering for his favorite teams–LSU and the Saints.