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Dog owners may want to consider giving their dogs the gift of peace and quiet this holiday season

The holidays are a time to gather with family and friends to give thanks and be merry. During the holidays, many households tend to be a lot more hectic than normal. For many San Diego area residents, extra houseguests coupled with often copious amounts of food are synonymous with the holiday season. However, for a family dog, unfamiliar people and tempting treats can make for a disastrous recipe.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, annually an estimated 4.5 million people in the U.S. are victims of dog bites. The majority of those individuals who suffer dog bite injuries are children, followed by the elderly. From a quick nip to an all out attack, dog bite injuries can be serious and painful and may require both immediate and ongoing medical treatment and care.

Every dog has the ability to become violent and bite. This includes dogs that have never bitten anyone or displayed aggressive behavior. A dog is more prone to bite or attack when it feels scared or threatened. During the holidays, many people welcome family members and friends into their homes. Unfamiliar faces, scents and sounds may cause a dog to become stressed and more prone to lash out.

For many families, food also plays a major role in holiday traditions. For dog owners, it's important to note that, like many of us, a dog also has a difficult time passing by plates of cookies and other goodies without sampling a few. In situations where an individual attempts to take food away from a dog, a dog may bite to protect its bounty.

Many dog owners consider their dogs to be part of their families and want to include a dog in their holiday celebrations. Doing so, however, comes with certain risks. Even the most docile and gentle dog may bite or lash out if awoken by a child yanking its tail. In some cases, with extra people and food around, it may be wise to keep a dog sequestered in a bedroom or quiet area of the house.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association, "Dog Bite Prevention," 2014

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