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Health Information For Parents
Most kids don’t think a cuddly dog would ever hurt them. But about 4.7 million dog bites happen every year in the United States. Of kids bitten, more than half are under age 14. Dog bites can be much more than an innocent little nip, and some need care in the hospital or even surgery.
Any breed of dog might bite. Just because a dog is small or seems friendly doesn’t mean it can’t do some damage. Even the nicest, best-trained family dog may snap if it’s startled, scared, threatened, angry, or hungry.
No matter how well you think you know the dog, always supervise your kids around someone else’s pet. To reduce the risk of bites, teach kids these safety guidelines:
Make sure that your kids understand some “nevers” about being around dogs:
Before getting a dog, talk to a professional (such as a veterinarian or respected breeder or pet shelter) about what type of dog or breed is best for your household. Ask questions about the dog’s temperament and health. A dog with a history of aggression is not a suitable pet for a household with kids.
If your family has a dog, make sure it gets all required immunizations and regular vet checkups. Also, have it spayed or neutered. Consider taking your dog to obedience school to make it more social and obedient, and thus less likely to bite someone.
When you take your dog out in public, always keep it on a leash so you can be in control if its behavior gets out of hand. If you have kids, closely supervise them when they’re around the dog and never leave an infant or toddler alone with your pet.
If a dog bites your child, contact your doctor, especially if the dog is not yours. Some dog bites need to be treated in an emergency department. Some dog bites can seem minor on the surface but can cause deeper injuries to muscle, bone, and nerves.
While rare, rabies and other kinds of infections from dogs like bacterial infections can happen and should be treated right away. Your doctor will let you know if your child needs antibiotics to prevent a dog bite from becoming infected. Not all cuts (lacerations) due to dog bites are closed with stitches. Sometimes, closing a wound can increase the risk of infection.
To help the doctor know the infection risk and what treatment your child might need, try to have this information ready:
Kids can benefit from the companionship, affection, and relationships they share with pets. But it’s important to know how to protect your family from infections carried by pets and other animals.
Rabies is a serious infection of the nervous system that is caused by a virus. Rabies is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal.
Animal bites and scratches, even minor ones, can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body, regardless of whether the animal is a family pet or a wild animal.
Animal bites and scratches that break the skin can cause infection. Rarely, animal bites can cause rabies, a dangerous, life-threatening disease.
Do you love animals? Lots of kids do. Find out how to stay safe around them in this article for kids.
Cat scratch disease is an infection that causes swelling of the lymph nodes after a cat scratch or bite. Learn about signs and symptoms, prevention, treatment, and more.
Are you a little afraid of dogs? Some kids are, so find out how you can make friends with dogs and avoid dog bites.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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