Monday, August 14, 2017

How to avoid a dog bite

I miss my first dog Spencer (poodle/sheepdog) every day of my life. How I loved him...

But I realize not all dogs are exuberant, kissy-face bundles of happiness...My mail man Anthony often says a dog just chased him or nipped.

One day, in her twenties, my daughter came out of her room with a huge ointment-covered bandage on her face--she had leaned over to snuggle a friend's pit bull and the dog, perhaps startled, tried to chew off her upper lip--19 stitches--the ER--and a fight with the insurance company, which wanted to get the money back from the dog owner (we supplied the info--don't know if they ever did).

More than 4.7 million dog bites take place each year--in summer. That is when dogs and children are outside and interact more.

Robert Olympia, MD, pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Penn State's Children's Hospital, says the chance of infection from a dog bite is between 5% and 15%, so antibiotics are a good idea. But before that, clean the bite with soap and water and apply pressure to stop bleeding.

If bleeding won't stop and if the child complains of pain or numbness, go to the ER. They will ask about the dog's rabies vaccine status...If this is not known, rabies shots may be recommended.

Most dogs that bite are known to the children or family, so rabies status is known.

Unprovoked attacks are rare.

Some tips:

--When choosing a dog, find out as much as you can about the dog's background. An anxious dog or one that shies away from humans may not be best. The more social the dog, the less chance of biting.

--Don't approach a dog you don't know. Always ask the dog's caregiver if it's OK to pet.

--Let the dog sniff your closed hand.

--Tell children to be quiet and calm.

--Dogs don't like hugs and kisses as much as we think. Wrapping your arms around a dog is not a good idea.

--If a dog runs at you, stand motionless. They will chase if you run.

--If you are attacked, roll in a ball on the ground.

Gee, this makes dogs sound like monsters...They aren't. But they are living things and have brains and preferences as to how they want to be treated. Don't overload them at first meeting.

That applies to me, too.

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