Preventing Dog Bites02/28/2021 ● By by Pilar Bradshaw, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Injuries by the numbers
- 470,000: The approximate number of children bitten by dogs each year. Boys are twice as likely as girls to be bitten.
- 5-9: The ages of children who are at the highest risk of being bitten, according to the American Veterinary Association.
- 77%: The percentage of bites that are from a dog belonging to the child’s family, friends or neighbors.
Know when to back off
Most dog bites are preventable. To help reduce the risk of your child being injured by a dog:
- Teach kids to never go near a dog while it’s eating or drinking.
- Explain that a sleeping dog can be easily startled and bite as a result.
- Instruct children not to taunt dogs with toys or treats.
- Explain that backing dogs into a corner or other area where they have no way to escape can make the animal feel trapped and defensive.
- Help kids learn to recognize signs that a dog is agitated or uncomfortable:
Ears pinned back on a breed with ears that normally stand up
Raised hackles (the fur on the dog’s back stands up)
Growling or bared teeth
Tail tucked under or arched way over the dog’s back
It’s important to remember that it is not a dog's breed that determines whether it will bite, but rather the dog's individual history and behavior, as well as the circumstances and above risk factors.
Children under age 5 may not reliably recognize when a dog is about to bite, so never leave a young child near a dog without continuous adult supervision. For more information about dogs and kids, go to EugenePeds.com.