There is nothing quite like the love of a dog. Dogs are loyal friends, playful companions and can even keep you in shape and healthy. According to AVMA, 36.5% of all households in the United States have a dog, which makes for a lot of wagging tails. However, even our most beloved furry companion can be dangerous. According to the CDC, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Of those, 1 in 5 dog bites become infected. And over half of dog-bite injuries occur in the home with dogs that are familiar to us.
Luckily, there are easy ways to prevent your dog, or even a stray or unfamiliar dog, from becoming aggressive and attacking. It just takes some patience and a little knowledge.
Preventing Dog Bites
Understand Dog Body Language
An aggressive dog will have his tail raised and bristled. Ears may be tilted forward or slightly to the side, with a wrinkled nose and visible teeth and gums. A dog that is nervous or distressed may also be a high risk. If the dog’s body is lowered with raised hackles, ears back and dilated pupils, don’t approach it.
Stay Still “Like a Tree”
Don’t face the dog head on, as some dogs will take this as a challenge or display of dominance. Instead, keep your body at an angle, but have your head facing the dog so you can keep both eyes on it.
Say “No” in a Firm, Deep Voice
Don’t yell or shout, this might spook the dog and send it into a panic. You can also say “Go Home.”
If the dog stops you can slowly back away in a slow, relaxed manner to put some distance between you and the dog. It’s important to stay calm and to not panic, since panicking might antagonize the dog even more. Don’t run! If you run, the dog may think of you as prey or as a playmate and chase you.
If You’re Attacked
Put Something in Between You and the Dog
If you have a purse, bag, or jacket put it between you and the dog to protect yourself. Create a shield out of any objects you can find around. You can also wrap your weaker arm in a jacket to distract the dog.
If the dog knocks you over, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and arms over your ears and neck. Dogs will go for the vulnerable parts, so make sure your keeping your core and head protected.
How to Treat a Dog-Bite
Once you are in a safe area, assess your wound. If the bite is minor, immediately wash the it with antibacterial soap and water. Dab it try with a clean towel, apply antibiotic cream like Neosporin and cover the wound with a clean bandage.
If the wound becomes red, painful, warm or swollen or if you develop a fever, visit a healthcare professional. This may be a sign of a serious infection.
If your bite is deep, apply pressure to the wound with a clean, dry cloth. Call 911 if you feel weak or can’t stand up. With all bites that are deep, see a doctor of other healthcare provider as soon as possible!
Since there are several diseases that you can get from dog bites, including Rabies, Tetanus, and MRSA, if there is any doubt make sure to visit a doctor to get the proper treatment you need.
Dogs are man’s best friend, but they are animals and even our beloved pet can be pushed too far. If you’re careful and respectful of your dog’s boundaries and take preventative measures with unknown dogs, you can greatly reduce your risk of being a victim of a dog bite.