National Dog Bite Prevention Week®
April 8-14, 2018
ANY DOG CAN BITE.
Just because a dog looks small and harmless, doesn’t mean it is. Even the sweetest and most loving of animals can bite or snap if provoked. What’s more scary – some owners actually promote aggression in their dogs or allow aggression to go unchecked, often leaving well-intentioned folks injured or worse.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week® is hosted every year by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medial Association) in an effort to bring awareness to these fairly common, and often preventable, occurrences. Each April, veterinary hospitals and organizations across America shift their focus to assisting pet owners on education and training to help prevent dog bites, and offer resources on how owners can educate themselves, their children, and others about proper dog bite prevention.
There are more than 70 million registered canines living in households across the United States. Did you know that as many as 4.5 million people each year report they have been bitten by a dog? From nips to bites to actual attacks, dog bites are a serious problem. With 1 out of every 5 dog bite injuries requiring medical attention – that’s nearly 1 million Americans bitten every year, with at least half of them under 12 years of age. Most dog bites occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs and kids. Children – especially young children – and senior citizens are the most common victims, and are far more likely to be severely injured!
Although media reports and rumors often give the impression that certain breeds of dog are more aggressive than others and therefore more likely to bite, there is very little actual scientific evidence to support those claims. It is much more important to focus on things that we know increase the chance of a bite occurring. Often, simple training and socialization of your pet, or educating your children and yourself about how – or whether- to approach a dog is enough to prevent these incidents in your home. Information and education are the best tools for this public health crisis.
Carefully Select Your Pet: Don’t just get a puppy on impluse – taking responsibility for the life of an animal is a serious business and should be treated as such. Before and after selection, your veterinarian is your best source for information on behavior, health, and suitability.
Socialize Your Pet: Ensure they feel at ease around other people and pets. Gradually expose your pup to a variety of situations under controlled circumstances and continue that exposure on a regular basis as your dog gets older. Remember, just because your dog isn’t a puppy anymore doesn’t mean that they don’t need play groups or time at the dog park – it is interactions like these that help keep a dog social and friendly. Don’t put your dog in a position where he or she feels threatened or teased.
Take Extra Care With Young Children: ALWAYS supervise the interactions of young children and dogs – including your own dogs. Carefully manage the introduction of a child or a new dog to your household and consider delaying acquiring a new dog until your children are over the age of four.
Train Your Dog: The basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, “no”, and “come” can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of obedience and trust between pets and people. Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-o-war, and while your pet should always be on a short leash in public, avoid using a retractable leash as they frequently release and allow far too much distance between your and your pet to guarantee safe pet control.
Keep Your Dog Healthy: Keep your pet current on their annual exams and vaccinations against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and overall health care is vitally important to your pet because how well your pet feels, directly affects how they behave. Think about it – if we’re painful or uncomfortable, we tend to get a bit grouchy… it’s the same with our pets. Dogs in pain are more likely to lash out, so make sure to have painful conditions such as arthritis, or injuries, addressed by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Be A Responsible Pet Owner: Obey leash laws. If you’ve got a fenced yard, make sure the gate is closed or locked. Walk and exercise you dog regularly to provide mental stimulation and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Studies of dog bite events suggest that it is beneficial to spay or neuter your dog – so discuss this with your veterinarian.
Be Alert: Know your dog and recognize when your pet is stressed, uncomfortable, or showing signs of aggression, and be prepared to intervene and prevent an escalation of the situation. Remove your dog from situations that could increase the risk of biting. If you dog shows signs of fear or aggression that seem unprovoked or potentially dangerous, consult your veterinarian to help determine the cause and possible treatments
If you’re asking, “How can my family and I avoid being bitten?” there’s a couple things to remember…
- Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with respect.
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
- Be alert for potentially dangerous situations and take measures to prevent or stop them from escalating.
- Teach children, including toddlers, to be careful around and respectful of dogs. Teach them not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs reaching through fences.
- Always ask permission to pet a stranger’s dog, and make sure your child asks as well. Not all dogs are friendly enough for a stranger or a child, and asking if you can pet them first can help to prevent a potentially harmful situation.
If you would like to learn more about training for your pet, or have questions for your veterinarian, please call our office at (847) 634-9250 to speak with a receptionist today!