Keeping Kids Safe Around Dogs
Health Notes Archives - Click HereBy Christina Elston

The bark may be worse, but dog bites still happen. Every year, about 800,000 people in the United States are bitten seriously enough to require medical attention, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Half of them are children.

In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 17- 23, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Postal Service are putting the word out about how you can keep your kids from being bitten.

If you're considering bringing a dog into your family, ask your veterinarian or local animal shelter for help, and carefully consider the breed you choose. Training, socializing and keeping your dog healthy will make the animal less likely to bite, as will neutering. Neutered dogs are three times less likely to bite.

No matter how well behaved and gentle a dog might be, never leave the animal alone with a baby or small child. Start teaching your children from an early age to be careful around pets and other animals. Here's what you need to tell your kids:

  • Don't approach a dog you don't know.

  • Don't scream and run away from a dog. If a strange dog comes up to you, be still, like a tree. If the dog knocks you over, roll into a ball and be still, like a log.

  • Don't play with a dog, even one you know, unless an adult is with you.

  • Don't run past a dog. Dogs love to chase and catch things, so this might make them aggressive.

  • Don't bother a dog that is sleeping, eating or taking care of puppies.

  • If a dog bites you, tell an adult.

  • If your child is bitten by a dog and the bite doesn't break the skin, clean the area and apply ice as needed. If a bite breaks the skin, apply pressure to stop any bleeding, check on the dog's vaccination status if possible, and contact your doctor.

  • Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media.

    More about Kids & Dogs

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