National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Teaming up with a children’s hospital like Valley Children’s has surely given us some insight into the nature of accidents that children can experience.  Though not as common as other wounds, dog bites are a serious matter since they not only hurt, but can affect a child’s perception of man’s best friend for years to come.  A safe upbringing most likely leads to a better view of the world, and that’s some thing every person should have.

The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery and the American Academy of Pediatrics have joined forces with the U.S. Postal Service, non-profit community, insurance industry and veterinarians to educate the public that dog bites are a serious health issue and are avoidable.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually – more than half of whom are children. Over the past five years, dog bite injuries are reported to be the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury in children ages 0-14 in America.

doggy with boy

“As pediatricians, we see the injuries dog bites can cause,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP. “In addition to teaching children about safety when riding their bike or walking to school, it’s important to educate them about how to stay safe around dogs.”

Dog Bite Prevention Week is an ideal time to educate children and adults on how to handle, train and treat dogs. If you are considering getting a dog, talk with a veterinarian about choosing a dog that will fit in well with your family. As a dog owner, you should socialize your new pet, train your dog with commands, vaccinate your dog against rabies and other diseases, and neuter your dog, as they are less likely to bite.

The American Humane Association reports that 66 percent of bites among children occur to the head and neck. In 2014 approximately 28,500 reconstructive procedures were done to repair dog bites, as reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which is a 6 percent increase since 2013.

“Even the friendliest dog may bite when startled or surprised. Be cautious; once a child is scarred they are scarred for life,” said Gregory R. D. Evans, MD, FACS, president of the ASRM. “Most children love dogs and like to put their faces up close to the dog’s face. Parents should never permit this. Injuries to the face and hands can be disfiguring or disabling and require prompt, expert medical attention.”

The ASRM and AAP joined this coalition to raise awareness and help prevent devastating, life-changing injuries from dog bites.  Medical experts suggest steps you can take to protect your family from a dog bite:

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Teach your child to see if the dog is with an owner and looks friendly. Then ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. Let the dog sniff your child and have your child touch the dog gently, avoiding the face, head and tail.
  • Tell your child not to bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • Tell your child not to run past a dog.

dog1

If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands. If you are bitten by a dog take the following steps immediately:

  • Rinse the bite area with soapy water.
  • Elevate limb(s) that have been bitten.
  • For deeper bites or puncture wounds, apply pressure with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding. Then wash the wound, dry it and cover with a sterile dressing. Don’t use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound.
  • It’s a good idea to call your child’s physician because a bite could require antibiotics or a tetanus shot.  The doctor also can help you to report the incident.
  • If your child is bitten severely, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.
  • When going to the emergency room, advise the personnel of:
  • your tetanus vaccination status;
  • vaccine status of the dog;
  • who the dog owner is; and,
  • If the dog has bitten before.

This post has been reblogged with the help of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Their article can be found here.

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