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Keeping Your Family Safe From Dog Bites

SATURDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- More than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and more than half of those victims are younger than age 14, experts say.

During National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 20 to 26), the American Academy of Pediatrics is joining with the American Veterinary Medical Association and the U.S. Postal Service to educate people about dog safety.

They offer many tips to help parents protect their children from dog bites.

  • If your family is planning to get a dog, choose a suitable breed. Collies and Labrador retrievers are among the breeds recommended as generally safe with children. Talk to your veterinarian for more information about how different breeds behave.
  • Dogs need to be socialized. You can do this by gradually exposing your puppy to a variety of people and other animals so it feels at ease in these situations. Continue this training as your dog gets older.
  • Training is essential. Commands create a bond of obedience and trust between people and dogs.
  • Don't wrestle or play aggressive games such as tug-of-war with your dog.
  • Neutering your dog will make it less likely to bite, and you need to vaccinate your dog against rabies and other diseases.
  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog. Teach children not to bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies, and teach them not to run past a dog.
  • If a dog threatens you, remain calm, avoid eye contact and either stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If an aggressive dog knocks you down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands.
  • If a dog bites you or your child, clean small wounds with soap and water and seek medical care for larger wounds. Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers tips for selecting safe pets.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Family Pediatrics

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