Preventing Dog Bites: Advice and Response Guidelines

by Lisa

Dog bites are a common occurrence, with over 4.5 million incidents reported annually in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, most of these incidents involve pet dogs within homes, rather than unfamiliar dogs encountered outdoors. Here’s how to avoid these incidents and what steps to take if you’re bitten.

Understanding Dog Bites:


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dogs typically bite as a response to feeling threatened, stressed, scared, or startled. Children are more vulnerable, accounting for over half of dog bite victims, with higher risks of serious injury due to their limited awareness of warning signs.


Preventive Measures:


Never leave young children unsupervised with dogs.


Educate children to avoid disturbing dogs while eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.

Always seek permission from a dog’s owner before petting it, even if it seems friendly.

Allow the dog to see and sniff you before attempting to pet it.

Avoid petting dogs that appear scared, sick, or angry.

Response to Unfamiliar Dogs:

If approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain calm, avoid eye contact, and use a firm, deep voice to command it to retreat.

Dealing with Dog Bites:

Clean the wound with mild soap and water, then cover it with a clean bandage.

Serious injuries, such as facial bites or heavy bleeding, require immediate medical attention.

Seek medical help if bitten by an unknown or stray dog, as rabies post-exposure prophylaxis may be necessary.

Obtain the dog owner’s contact information and ensure the dog is vaccinated against rabies.

Less Serious Bites:

For minor bites from vaccinated family dogs, clean the wound and monitor it for signs of infection. Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use, as doctors aim to limit prescriptions to high-risk cases to prevent antibiotic resistance.


By understanding dog behavior and following preventive measures, individuals can reduce the risk of dog bites. In the event of a bite, prompt and appropriate action can help mitigate potential complications and ensure proper wound care.


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