Dogs can be man’s best friend – and as the number two pet in America – many people obviously agree. However, Fido comes with a sharp set of canine teeth. With those teeth, nearly 5 million people a year are bitten in the United States. According to pediatrics.com about 400,000 of these dog bite victims will be children requiring medical treatment.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says it is important to note about half of dog bites that affect children happen during everyday activities, in their own home and with familiar dogs. Among children, the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, a study entitled Which Dogs Bite? A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors, found that biting dogs were more likely to be to be male, to reside in a home with one or more children, and to be un-neutered. A final factor was that biting dogs are more likely to be chained while in the yard than non-biting dogs. Some dog breeds also have higher rates of reported bitings than others, such as German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Bull Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Doberman Pinchers, Great Danes, Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Siberian Huskies.
However, beware of breed bias. There is a growing movement to prevent breed discrimination. The American Veterinary Medical Association has wise words on this subject:
There is no such thing as a bad breed of dog.
All dogs can bite if provoked.
So instead of concentrating on the breed of dog, you should just keep your kids safe around any dog.
Fortunately, dog bites are largely preventable and every parent can help minimize their child’s risk by teaching them basic doggie etiquette – in other words, how to successfully interact (or not) with a dog.