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Dog bites may be preventable

More than 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. In fact, statistics reveal that every 40 seconds, someone is seeking medical attention for a dog bite. The medical costs associated with medical treatment for dog bites amount to a whopping $165 million a year.

Dog bites can have serious physical and emotional consequences. Many dog bites will result in scarring and even infection. Of particular concern are dog bites to the face, which typically require at least some plastic surgery.

Children are particularly vulnerable. More than half of the dog bites reported annually involve children. This may be because children are less able to recognize aggression in dogs, or that dogs are less intimidated by children. Whatever the reason, at least 50 percent of children will be bitten by a dog by the time they reach the age of twelve.

However, many dog bites can be avoided. California residents can protect themselves by following some simple safety precautions when near a dog, including:

  • Exercise caution around all dogs, including your own
  • Closely supervise children when a dog is near
  • Stay away from unfamiliar dogs
  • Avoid eye contact with a dog
  • Never growl at a dog
  • If a dog approaches you, stand still. Do not run and scream.
  • Especially avoid dogs while they are eating, sleeping or caring for their puppies

If you or someone you know is bitten by a dog, it is essential to find out if the dog has been vaccinated. If the dog bite results in a serious injury, you should seek medical attention immediately, because of the risk of infection. Depending on the nature and extent of the dog bite, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to minimize disfigurement and the appearance of scars.

Source: Parkville-Overlea Patch, "Preventing Injuries from Man's Best Friend," Dr. Ravi Aloor, 27 May 2011

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