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Young girl walking a dog in the park

Prevent Dog Bites with these Tips

By Dr. M. Ann Kuhn, Trauma Care

Even the gentlest dogs may bite when agitated, scared, threatened, or in pain. In 2022, CHKD treated 42 children for severe dog bites and several more for minor injuries.

Most dog bites involving children happen during everyday activities, and with a dog the child knows. Parents can help prevent dog bites by teaching children:

  • Never to play aggressive games with a dog.
  • Not to take a toy or bone away from a dog.
  • To ask permission from the owner before petting a dog.
  • To let a dog see and sniff them before petting them. If the dog seems nervous or shows signs of aggression, such as growling or barking, do not pet them.
  • To stay away from a dog's face and tail.
  • To pet dogs gently and to avoid eye contact, especially at first.
  • Not to bother a dog when it is eating, sleeping, playing with a toy, or caring for puppies, as they naturally respond more aggressively in these situations.
  • Not to run past, skate, or ride close to a dog.
  • To keep distance from any dog that is barking or growling, as well as one that is loose, tied up, or behind a fence.
  • To remain calm, avoid eye contact, and back away slowly if they feel threatened by a dog, especially if the dog is showing signs of aggression.
  • To curl up in a ball, protecting their eyes and face with their arms and fists if ever knocked over by a dog.
  • That ANY dog can bite, no matter how well they know you.

If your child is ever bitten by a dog:

  • While someone cares for their injuries, another adult should get the owner's contact information, proof of rabies vaccination, and the name and telephone number of the veterinarian familiar with the dog's vaccination records and history.
  • For severe injuries, call 911 or bring your child to the emergency department.
  • For minor injuries, immediately wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Call your pediatrician. The bite could require antibiotics, a tetanus shot, or a rabies shot.

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About Children's Surgical Specialty Group

About Children's Surgical Specialty Group  Our surgeons provide outstanding surgical services for children who come to our main hospital as well as those who come to our surgery centers. CHKD is a world leader in thoracic surgery and home to the Nuss Procedure to correct pectus excavatum. At CHKD, we treat the big things, the little things, and everything in between. Our surgical specialists treat children for a wide variety of conditions, from congenital to infectious to traumatic. All members of CHKD Surgical Group have met stringent requirements and received certifications in their specific area of pediatric surgery.