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Young girl walking a dog in the park

Prevent Dog Bites with these Tips

By Dr. Lynelle Slade-Byrd, Tidewater Children's Associates

Even the gentlest of dogs may bite when agitated, scared, threatened or in pain. Hundreds of thousands of people receive medical attention for dog bites each year in the U.S. and at least half of them are children.

Most dog bites involving children happen during everyday activities and with a dog the child knows.

Parents can help prevent dog bites with these tips:

  • Never leave a child alone with a dog.
  • Teach your child that ANY dog can bite, even the family dog or a familiar dog.
  • Do not allow children to play aggressive games with a dog.
  • Teach your children not to take a toy or bone away from a dog.
  • Teach your children to ask a dog owner for permission before petting a dog.
  • Teach your children to let a dog sniff them before petting him.
  • Teach your children to stay away from a dog’s face and tail.
  • Teach your children to pet dogs gently and to avoid eye contact, especially at first.
  • Teach your children not to bother a dog that is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies. Dogs naturally respond more aggressively in these situations.
  • Teach your children not to run past a dog.
  • Teach your children to remain calm, avoid eye contact and back away slowly if a dog is growling and/or barking at them.
  • Teach your children to curl up in a ball and protect their eyes and face with their arms and fists if they are ever knocked over by a dog.

If your child is ever bitten by a dog:

  • While someone cares for the child’s injuries, another adult should get the following from the dog’s owner, proof of rabies vaccination, contact information and the name and telephone number of the veterinarian who is familiar with the dog’s vaccination records and history.
  • For minor injuries, immediately wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Call your pediatrician because the bite could require antibiotics, a tetanus shot and/or a rabies shot.
  • For severe injuries call 9-1-1 or bring your child to the emergency department.

About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.