April 06, 2022 Dogs Pets and Family

Dog Bite Injuries Are On The Rise: Here’s How to Keep Your Family Safe

A dog biting a woman's leg

Dog Bite Injuries Are On The Rise: Here’s How to Keep Your Family Safe

April 10-16 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dog bites are a serious public health concern. Annually, in the United States, 2–3 people per 100,000 need hospital admission for dog bite injuries. The annual incidence of bites in children under the age of 15 is 22 children per 1,000. The pandemic has exacerbated the issue, with bite injuries to children occurring more often and with increased severity during the lockdown months of 2020. Bite injuries to children are more likely to affect the face; those in adults the extremities.

Any Dog Can Bite

A recent study from Australia confirmed data from other countries regarding dog bites in children seen in the emergency room. The family dog, not a strange dog, was most likely the offending dog in bite injuries in children with an average age of five and a half years. However, parents of small children often do not perceive the family dog as a threat to the safety of their children. In a research study of child–dog interactions, the Labrador retriever was scored as “safer” than Jack Russell terriers or pit bull terriers. Since the Labrador retriever is the perennial American family dog, parents likely underestimate the risk their family dog poses to their children.

NYC is Safe for Mail Carriers

New York City is a wonderful place. In the past, I have taken umbrage when the press does not recognize this fact, especially when it comes to pets. However, there has been some encouraging news for New York City pet parents: NYC did not make the USPS’s 2020 list of Dog Attack Rankings by City. The top city for mail carrier dog bite injuries was Houston, Texas with 73 injured mail carriers. California was the top state with 783 injured mail carriers and New York State was #3, but the number of mail carriers bitten in New York State in 2020 was less than in 2019, an encouraging statistic.

Preventing Dog Bite Injuries

Teaching children to interact with dogs safely is critical. Dog bite prevention programs in elementary school have been demonstrated to decrease the severity of bite injuries in children. Parents should look into age-appropriate dog safety classes for their children or use some of the web-based materials available. Here is a short list:

The Usdan Institute for Animal Health Education has a free children’s resource on bite prevention which can be downloaded from AMC’s website.

The USPS also has recommendations on how you can prevent your dog from inflicting a bite injury on your mail carrier.

I will be discussing dog bite prevention with Dr. Jose Arce, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association, on the next episode of my radio show, “Ask the Vet” on SiriusXM Stars Channel 109. The show will also be released as a podcast. Be sure to tune in, listen on our website, or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

Tags: dog bite prevention week, Dog bites, dogs, dogs and children, national dog bite prevention week, preventing dog bites,

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