Did you know…
- Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
- Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
- Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
- Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
- Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
These facts and figures were provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and may sound a little bit scary. Any dog, even the most friendly pets, can bite under the right circumstances.
So, what causes our beloved pets to bite? Common reasons include fear and pain:
- Learn to recognize signs of fear in dogs, including early warning signs (called “calming signals”) like lip-licking, yawning, and looking away.
- If your pet has certain environmental triggers that contribute to fear and anxiety, learn to recognize them and mediate them. For example, some pets have storm or noise phobias, or severe separation anxiety. Tools like the ThunderShirt (available to purchase at Companion Animal Hospital) can work very well for some pets.
- Other pets may need prescription medication to aid with anxiety. Talk to your pet’s doctor. Just like some people with anxiety disorders, these medications can offer much needed help.
- Calming pheromone products like Adaptil can help some pets.
- Socialization is important for pets young and old, and doesn’t just mean “meeting lots of people,” but helping your dog experience different people, places, and things in a safe and secure way to help reduce fear and anxiety in future encounters. Dr. Sophia Yin goes over puppy socialization in detail here.
- Dogs can be wonderful family members, but make sure that you can teach children that interact with your dog how to do it safely. The AVMA has some great tips!
- Pain can be difficult to detect in some pets. After all, many of them live to please us! Pets are masters at hiding pain. Learn about what can cause pain and how to recognize it. Regular checkups with your pet’s veterinarian can help detect problems early.
While prevention is the best solution, sometimes bites happen. Read up on what to do if you’re bitten by a dog here.