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Dog Bite Prevention Week

May 20, 2016


The third week of May is recognized as Dog Bite Prevention Week. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there have been 4.5 million people who have been bitten by a dog in 2015 – 20% of which required medical attention. Children, senior citizens, and postal workers are common victims of dog bites. Sadly, the majority of bites have happened to children ages 1-14. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 65% of all dog bites in children were injuries on the head and neck. 

“Dogs are our best friends, providing love, comfort and protection,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “But it’s up to us humans to be good friends to them as well by protecting everyone around us – ourselves, our kids, and our dogs – from the dangers and consequences of dog bites.”

It is not uncommon to hear of a dog having to be put down after it has bitten someone or attacked another dog. As pet owners, we need to be responsible and prevent dog bites. It’s important to remember that any dog, even the most gentle and sweet dogs are capable of biting when they feel frightened or threatened. In many cases, the chances of dog biting can be reduced with proper care, socializing dogs at a young age, and teaching others – especially children – about how to approach pets the right way.

 At The COVE, we see many pets with varying degrees of illness and injuries. Wounded or sick animals are often scared and nervous. Our team members will use the following methods to relax our patients:

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Speak softly and avoid immediate, direct eye contact.
  3. Maintain a quiet, clean environment.
  4. Utilize DAP or Feliway diffuser or spray. These are canine and feline pheromones that are safe for the animal and help calm them under stressful situations.
  5. Utilize appropriate analgesia/anti-anxiety injectable medications to ensure a fear and pain free experience.
  6. Adopt a “less is more” approach to minimize the possibility of exacerbating their natural fight and flight response.
  7. If necessary, utilize a muzzle (for short periods of time). In addition to reducing the patient’s ability to bite out of anxiety or fear, a muzzle can also aid in relaxing the animal by applying acupressure to various pressure points.

While we understand that you might not have the same equipment and training as our veterinary team, there are many things you can do to prevent dog bites. 

Here are some resources to help prevent dog bites.

For Children 

Never approach an unattended dog. If the dog is accompanied by its owner and on leash, teach them to always ask the owner for permission to touch the dog. This infographic is a great visual to show your children on how to approach a dog properly. Click the image to download the full size. 


When touching a dog, pet gently and softly. Never pull, hit, slap or tease a dog. Hugs should also be discouraged, as some dogs do not like being hugged.

Never approach a dog that is busy eating, playing with its toys, or sleeping. Dogs can turn aggressive if they feel their territory is being taken over. Their food and toys belong to them. They may see your child as a threat to their territory and feel they need to protect their belongings. A sleeping dog feels vulnerable so waking them up suddenly can frighten them.

For more resources on how to teach your child about proper pet handling and care, check out AVMA’s The Blue Dog: Parent Guide and CD. AVMA also has video series featuring Jimmy the Dog. The video series covers dog bite prevention tips for both parents and children. 

For Pet Owners

Socialize your dog at an early age. Puppies that have early experiences with going to new places and meeting new people will have an easier time adjusting to new situations as they are older.

Never put your dog in a position or place where they feel threatened. For example, you might see your dog becoming anxious when a child is teasing your dog, or a crowd has formed around your dog. Not all dogs growl before they bite. Be alert to your dog’s eyes, mouth, and tail for warning signs. Move your dog to a safe place where they will feel comfortable. Don’t assume because your dog is gentle that it won’t lash out. 


Always leash your dog in public areas. You never know what might distract your dog. Furthermore, you don’t know who or what might approach your dog suddenly. A leash will allow you to control your dog during unexpected situations.

Use the yellow ribbon. You know your dog’s limits. If your dog is currently being trained, sick, or lacks socialization, tie a yellow ribbon to your dog’s collar or leash. The yellow ribbon is used to alert others that you dog should not be approached. Click image to download full size. 

Educate others to #preventdogbites.

Share this blog post with friends and family. Use the hashtag #preventdogbites to find more resources and to share information with other pet owners. Together, we can help reduce the number of dog bites and protect our furry friends and children. Find more resources on dog bite prevention here


Category: Pet Health Tips