National Dog Bite Prevention

May 15-21, 2011 

Did you know an estimated 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in this country? Children, in particular boys between the ages of 5 and 9 years, are far more likely to be bitten. Always remember any dog has the potential to bite and most people are bitten by their own dog or a dog they know. Certain dog breeds have the potential to cause more harm, but no breed has been proven to be more likely to bite. Even though dogs have become part of our family, we must still remember that they are dogs and may react with unexpected aggression.

May 15-21, 2011, is National Dog Bite Prevention Week so as dog owners and members of our community, it is important to understand the things we can do to prevent dog bites. The  American Veterinary Medical Association has compiled tools to help protect us and our families from dog bites.

What’s a dog owner to do?

  • Carefully select your pet. If you are thinking of adding a dog to your family, please set up a time to meet with one of our veterinarians. Our doctors are the best source of information about behavior, health and suitability.
  • Make sure your dog or puppy is socialized by exposing him or her to a variety of situations.
  • Take the time to train your dog or puppy. Basic commands can help establish a bond of obedience and trust with your dog.
  • Keep your dog healthy and pain-free. Dogs that are hurting or uncomfortable may behave differently or out of character.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Intact male dogs are more likely to bite than unneuter dogs.
  • Be a responsible pet owner. Keep your dog on a leash unless in an approved off-leash area. Maintain control of your dog, especially in stressful or unfamiliar situation.

Ways to prevent a bite or stop a dog attack

  • Don’t run past a dog. Dogs naturally want to chase.
  • Never disturb a dog while it is eating, sleeping or protecting a toy.
  • Always be cautious around a strange dog regardless of its size or breed. If approached by a dog, stay still; allow them to sniff.
  • If you are threatened, remain calm. Don’t run or scream. Try to move away from the dog slowly.
  • Never leave a baby or child alone with a dog, even the family dog

Dogs are wonderful animals and companions. By acting responsibly, we not only reduce dog bite injuries, but also enhance the relationship we have with our dogs.

Carrie Fleming, DVM, MPH