In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week from May 17 to May 23, Lange Animal Clinic in Pekin, IL and the ASPCA are helping pet owners and those who come in contact with dogs stay safe by offering helpful reminders and warning signs. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says regardless of breed, all dogs can bite. Pit bull breeds are most commonly named, but the most frequent breeds associated with serious bite injuries also include German Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers, Rottweilers, Labradors, Collies, Spaniels, and more.
More than four million people are bitten by dogs each year despite the fact that these incidents are very preventable. Dogs may show signs that they are stressed or anxious if they yawn, put their ears back, stiffen and stare at you, change body language quickly, growl or otherwise act out of the ordinary.
How do you avoid getting bit by a dog? Start by being polite and respecting the dog’s personal space. Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Don’t pet a dog—even your own—without letting him see and sniff you first.
Don’t disturb a dog while she’s sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or caring for puppies. Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn’t know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.
Pay attention to the dog’s body language
Put a safe amount of space between yourself and a dog if you see the following signals indicating that the dog is uncomfortable and might feel the need to bite:
- tensed body
- stiff tail
- pulled back head and/or ears
- furrowed brow
- eyes rolled so the whites are visible
- flicking tongue
- intense stare
- backing away
Teach Your Children to Interact with Dogs Correctly
Even if you trust your pet, more than 70 percent of dog bites happen at home. Your family pet may not mean to harm you, but often times children don’t know how to approach a dog or know when to stop bothering them. When a child is very outgoing, they forget that the animal may not want to be approached at certain times, and that it may react because it’s startled or protecting its food. The good news is, kids can learn the right way to interact with animals.
The ASPCA says some things to remember when dealing with children around pets are:
- Always supervise children around pets, even if that pet belongs to you
- Never surprise or scare a dog who is sleeping, eating or not expecting you
- Never take food, toys or bones away from a dog
- Do not let your child approach, touch or hug a dog that does not belong to them unless the owner gives permission
What to do if you think a dog may attack
If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:
- Resist the impulse to scream and run away. When putting space between yourself and a dog who might bite, never turn your back on him and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase you.
- Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
- Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
- If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
What to do if you’re bitten by a dog
If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic.
- Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Contact your physician for additional care and advice.
- Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including his owner’s name and the address where he lives. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw him, whether you’ve seen him before and in which direction he went.
Safety and proper interaction with dogs can prevent bites from occurring. To learn more, speak with a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian.
For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.
Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.