Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association: Dog bite prevention – keep your family safe

During the week of May 15-21 the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) is calling attention to a commonly reported public health issue – dog bites. According the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 5 million people in the country were bitten by dogs last year, with children being the most common victims.

The majority of dog bite incidents happen during everyday activities while interacting with familiar dogs. It is important to know what you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how, or if, they should approach a dog.

Keep these tips in mind whenever a dog is present:

* Ask permission before petting someone’s dog. Approach slowly and quietly, and allow the dog to sniff the back of your hand. Pet the dog’s sides or back gently.

* Stay away from a dog that may be protecting something. Don’t disturb a dog while he or she is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.

* If you are threatened by a dog, remain calm. Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If the dog does attack, give them your coat, purse, book bag, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.

The AVMA suggests taking these steps in a dog bite emergency where you have been bitten:

* Request information. If the dog’s owner is present, request proof of rabies vaccination, and get the owner’s name and contact information. Contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records.

* Clean the wound. Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.

* Consult your doctor. For additional care and advice, contact your doctor or go to the emergency room if it’s after office hours.

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to raise your dog in a manner that will prevent dog biting.

* Pick a good match for you and your family. Consult with your veterinarian for details about the behavior of different breeds.

* Socialize with your pet. Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.

* Spay or neuter your dog. This will reduce your dog’s desire to roam and fight with other dogs, making them less aggressive. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.

* Train your dog. The basic commands “sit,” “stay,” “no,” and “come” help dogs understand what is expected of them and can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of trust between pets and people.

* Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. In the event of a dog bite, you can be certain rabies or other diseases will not be transmitted. Keeping your dog healthy allows them to feel better, affecting how he or she will behave.

* Use a leash. This is especially important in public to ensure you have control over your dog.

* Walk and exercise your dog. Regular exercise will keep your dog healthy and provide mental stimulation.

For more information about dog bite prevention contact your local WVMA member veterinarian or find one online at http://www.wvma.org About Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association

The mission of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association is to advocate and promote veterinary medicine, while enriching animal and human health. Founded in 1915, The Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association has nearly 2,400 members.

Contact Information

Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association

(608) 257-3665

[email protected]