From Dr. Baillie:
As school gets out, and summer activities hit high gear, it's a good time of year to be talking about dog bite prevention; almost 5 million dog bites occur every year in our country. Bites accounted for more than one-third of homeowners' insurance liability claims in 2011 according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Teaching children how to interact with dogs--even if you don't own one--can go a long way in preventing injury. Kids aged 5-9 years old are most often the ones injured, and usually the dog that bit them is not a stranger. The AVMA estimates that of the children under the age of 18 who have been bitten, family dogs are responsible for 30% of the bites, while the neighbor's dog is responsible for another 50% of the bites.
Tips from the AVMA include:
*Carefully select your pet, considering the breed and your own lifestyle. Puppies should not be obtained on impulse. We are happy to consult with you about finding your best dog breed match (in fact, we love to talk dogs!)
*Make sure your pet is socialized as a puppy so it feels relaxed around people and animals.
*Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
*Train your dog. Basic commands help dogs understand what is expected of them and can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of trust.
*Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
*Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war.
*Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
*Keep your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and other health care are important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.
*Neuter your pet.
*Make sure gates are secure.
If you are bitten by a dog, here is a checklist of things you should do:
- If the dog's owner is present, get the owner's name and contact information, and request proof of rabies vaccination.
- Clean bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
- Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if the bite occurs after office hours.
- Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records.
We have sent several Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo staff members for special training in dog bite prevention and have, in the past, presented programs for day camps and elementary schools. If you have questions or problems regarding dog bite situations feel free to call us at 651-770-3250 for help or advice.
For more information on dog bite prevention, visit http://www.avma.org/public_health/dogbite/ for helpful tips and resources for the whole family.