How to Protect Yourself From Dog Bites

How Common Are Dog Bites to People?

It sounds hard to believe, but dog bites comprise the second most common childhood injury requiring emergency-room care. This is because 60 percent of the 4.7 million people bitten each year are children, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In fact, about half of all children 12 and under have been bitten. This places dog bites ahead of playground accidents, which rank third according to the American Medical Association. (The most common cause of emergency room visits is injury occurring during baseball or softball games).

Other categories of people who are frequently attacked include elderly folk and delivery people, such as mail carriers. The image of a dog chasing the mailman is not a just a stereotype. Most attacks occur at the dog’s home or in a familiar place. The attacking dog usually belongs to the family or a friend of the family.

The increasing number of dog bites has led the CDC to label dog bites as “epidemic” (dog bites are addressed toward 2 percent of the U.S. population annually) Fortunately, most bites are not fatal. About 10 to 20 people die each year as a result of dog bites.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

There are many reasons why a dog may bite: fear, to protect territory, or to establish their dominance over the person being bitten. Some dog owners mistakenly teach their dogs that biting is an acceptable form of play behavior. Sadly, every year a number of newborn infants die because dogs seem to regard them as “prey.” Because dog bites occur for several different reasons, various aspects of responsible dog ownership – including proper socialization, supervision, humane training, neutering, and safe confinement – are necessary to prevent dogs from biting. To learn more about aggressive dogs, see Aggressive Dogs and Society.

If you’re bitten, it is very important to identify the dog that bites you. If you don’t know anything about the dog, you may have to be treated for rabies as a precaution. Also, you will want some action taken to prevent future attacks. Whether your doctor recommends rabies vaccination for you after you have been bitten will depend on how prevalent rabies is in your area (i.e. the circumstances).

Tips on How to Avoid Dog Bites

What to Do if Attacked By a Dog

Why It’s Best to Remain Still During an Dog Attack?

Dogs attack for one of three basic reasons: