Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dog Bites

By Diane Forrest,

Today we want to share some information about dog bites with you and how to prevent them and how to treat them.

Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year.  Most of these occur with your or a friend's pet, and others occur from the property of another pet owner.  There has been much discussion about types of breeds that bite, however any breed of dog will bite if provoked.  Growing up we had a cocker spaniel.  He stayed outside in our fenced in yard.  There was an alley behind our home, and kids would walk down the alley and tease our dog, throw rocks and sticks at him and eventually he retaliated by biting. 

Other actions that will provoke an attack include:

  • Bothering a dog during meal time.  My brother was our dog's feeder.  He would feed him every day then come inside.  One day, he simply gave the dog a pat after placing his food down, and the dog took this action as an attempt to take his food, and bit my brother on the nose. 
  • "Attacking" a dog or its companions on their territory
  • Sickness or injury of the dog
  • Intervention when dogs are fighting
  • Threatening body language
  • Ignoring warning signs
  • Attacks may be triggered by behaviors that are perceived as an attack, for example, a sudden unexpected approach or touch by a stranger, or inadvertently stepping on any portion of the dog's anatomy, such as a paw or tail, or startling a sleeping dog unexpectedly. In particular, the territory that a dog recognizes as its own may not coincide with the property lines that its owner and the legal authorities recognize, such as a portion of a neighbor's backyard.

Prevention:
  • While some dogs are trained to attack while protecting his home and master, there are some signs that you need to be aware of that will lead to an attack.
  • Don’t treat a dog unkindly.
  • Never hit, kick, slap or bite a dog or pull on his ears, tail or paws.
  • Don’t bother a dog when she is busy.
  • Never bother dogs with puppies or dogs that are playing with or guarding toys, eating or sleeping. Always leave service dogs alone while they are working.
  • Don’t approach a dog you don’t know.
  • Never approach a dog that is tied up, behind a fence or in a car.
  • If you find an animal, call the police or animal control for help.
  • If you want to meet a dog, first ask the owner for permission. If the owner says it’s OK, hold out your hand in a fist for the dog to sniff. If he’s interested, you can give him a little scratch under the chin (not over the head) and say hello.
  • Do be calm.
  • Always talk in a quiet voice or whisper -- no shouting -- and take a “time out” if you feel angry or frustrated.
  • Do be still.
  • If a loose dog approaches you, stand still like a tree. Keep your hands at your sides, and stay quiet and calm. Look away from the dog.
  • If you are on the ground, curl up into a ball, like a rock. Keep your knees to your chest and your hands over your ears. Stay quiet and calm. Look down at your knees, not at the dog.
  • Always make slow movements, set things down carefully and don’t run when you’re around dogs, as this gets them excited and they may accidently hurt you.

Treatment:
  • After an attack has occurred, first control the bleeding.  Clean the area with soap and warm water, apply antibacterial ointment and cover with a clean dressing.
  • Determine if the dog has been vaccinated for Rabies.  If this can not be determined, alert your doctor.  Rabies can be fatal for humans.
  • Some bites may require stitching or further treatment.  Wounds on the face and hands should be seen by your doctor to prevent scaring.
  • Use caution and common sense when around a strange dog, and even your own dog.  Be careful not to provoke an attack, but if you are bitten, take quick measures to clean and dress the wound to prevent infection.


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