Teach children how to avoid dog bites
Special to the Sentinel
Don’t become a statistic; teach children how to avoid dog bites.
Annually, almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs. Dog bite victims requiring medical attention in the United States number 500,000 to 1 million annually. Countless more bites go unreported and untreated. On average, about a dozen people die each year from dog bites.
During a six year study, more than 18,000 injuries or illnesses involving dogs or cats were reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You might be inclined to believe that working with pets is also a very dangerous proposition; however veterinarians and veterinary staff accounted for less than 5% of the total, despite their obvious closeness with their patients. What secrets can this profession teach us about avoiding these injuries and the associated costs?
Veterinarians and their staff see a large numbers of dogs each day and staff members learn to read a dog’s body language to help prevent dog ites. Dogs likely to bite usually will show distinct body language signs. These include: tenseness, growling, raised hair on the neck and the back, menacing bark, and even a slowly wagging tail. Dogs that are confident will often lean forward as they show these signs, preparing to launch an attack. Less confident dogs may lean away from the person, preparing to run. On some occasions, dogs may appear to bite without any warning signs. These dogs may have been previously punished for growling or showing outward signs of aggression.
Even the sweetest pup can bite if provoked. Continually assessing the dog’s body language is the best way to avoid being bitten by the dog.
Children make up more than 60 percent of all dog bite victims. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all children 12 and younger have been bitten by a dog.
Teaching your children some of the following guidelines could help to avoid a painful lesson and potentially even save his or her life.
• Children should be taught to never run up on a dog, especially one who is feeding.
• Explain to your child that not every dog may be as friendly as their own pet. Tell them to never approach a stray dog unless Mom or Dad has assessed the situation.
• Teach your child to ask the dog owner if it is ok to approach the dog or pet the dog.
• Use your judgment as a parent. If you sense that your child shouldn’t be near a certain pet, avoid the situation.
As dog owners, we love our pets and want the very best for them. They are amazing creatures that bring so much joy and pleasure to our lives. No one wants to see dogs euthanized for dangerous behavior issues but we also don’t want to see our kids hurt or worse because pets have not been given proper behavior training from puppies on up.
Prevention is the key. If you are having difficulty with your dog and aggression, please see your veterinarian immediately.
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Dr. Wes Borgman is the veterinarian and owner of the Seminole Animal
Hospital in Sanford. He can be reached at 407-330-7387.