Reducing the risk of a dog bite
If you own a dog, you undoubtedly spend time each day allowing your dog to exercise. This may mean a walk around the block or a trip to one of dog parks in the Tampa area. In your travels, you likely encounter other dogs and their owners. Depending on the size and breed of their dogs, you may walk up to pet them or pull your puppy close and give them a wide berth.
While you may know the signs and signals your dog sends when stressed or nervous, it is not always easy to predict when an animal will lunge or snap. Dog bite injuries can be serious, even deadly, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers suggestions for avoiding and treating dog bite wounds.
Preventing an attack
Dog attacks do not always involve a strange dog. In fact, it is more likely that a dog you know will be the one to bite. Children are far more vulnerable to dog bites, perhaps because they have no inhibitions about approaching and touching an unfamiliar animal. The CDC urges you to teach your children to always ask permission of the owner before approaching or petting a dog, and never touch a dog that is sleeping or eating.
If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, you can take certain steps to reduce the chances of an attack:
- Stand still until the dog passes.
- Stay calm and quiet.
- Do not look directly into the dog’s eyes, as this is a sign of aggression to a dog.
- Turn your body partially to the side to avoid facing the dog.
- Cover your neck with your hands without making a sudden move.
- Tell the dog, “NO!” in a deep, firm voice.
If the dog attacks or knocks you down, it is important to protect your throat and face as much as possible. You can do this by curling into a ball and placing a jacket, purse or bag between you and the dog.
Treating your wounds
If a dog bites you, it is important to clean the wound as quickly as possible. Dog saliva contains bacteria that can cause serious infections, including rabies, MRSA and tetanus. A wound that breaks the skin requires medical attention, and if you are bleeding uncontrollably or if you have muscle or bone damage, ask someone to call 911.
Because of the risk of rabies and the chance that the dog may be a danger to others, you should report any dog bite to the police and to animal control. If you suffer serious or disfiguring injuries, you may also consider seeking legal advice to pursue compensation for your injuries and suffering.
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