AUSTIN, Texas, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Many of those bitten are children, but you can prevent you and your loved ones from becoming a statistic. Educate yourself on how to be safe around animals during National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
Around 800,000 people, half of whom are children, receive medical attention each year because of dog bites. The most common age range for those patients is between five and nine years old. Because of that, it is crucial to teach children how to behave around dogs as well as to socialize your puppy or dog.
You can practice dog bite prevention from the start by never buying a dog or puppy on impulse and always researching the breed or mix that would best suit your family. Your family's activity level should be a large factor when picking a dog size and breed.
Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) past president Lori Teller, DVM, of Meyerland Animal Clinic in Houston says, "It is important to socialize your puppy with people of all ages and all species, including cats. Also, teaching your dog basic obedience is a necessity."
Dr. Teller advises against using flexible leashes or anything that takes away control from the owner. "This type of leash allows your dog to walk all over, and you don't have the control that a six-foot or shorter leash has," Dr. Teller adds.
Even if your dog is friendly and socialized, another dog might not be, leading to a dogfight that eventually could end with a person being injured. Never try to break up a dogfight by using your hands to break up the dogs. If the dogs don't stop after a couple seconds, you should use a broom or another inanimate object to separate them.
"Be cognizant of a dog's body language," Dr. Teller advises. "Dogs that are anxious or fearful are more likely to bite. Some things to watch for include ears pinned down or back, dog cowering a little or a lot, licking or smacking lips (especially if no food or treats are around), yawning when not tired, panting when the dog has not been exercising or when not overheated, and/or tail tucked down between legs."
Teach your children not to approach dogs they do not know as well as not to antagonize dogs by pulling their tail and ears or pinching. Never leave children, babies and dogs together unattended. Even if your dog is the most docile animal, it can still bite.
Never run or scream if a dog is chasing you as this incites their prey drive to chase things that run. If you are being chased, stand still like a tree, or curl up in a tight ball on the ground.
Spaying and neutering dogs cuts down on roaming and aggressive behavior. Also, make sure you are up to date on rabies shots so that if your dog is involved in a bite, it will decrease the likeliness of quarantine or being euthanized.
About the Texas Veterinary Medical Association
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit tvma.org.
TVMA Media/Marketing Specialist
SOURCE Texas Veterinary Medical Association