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Tips for keeping your children safe from dog bites

Q: Tips for keeping your children safe from dog bites


As the good weather approaches, people spend more time outdoors, along with their dogs. Approximately 5 million people in the US are bitten by dogs every year.


60% of the victims are children, who also suffer greater injuries and more fatalities than adults. Please remember that even the friendliest dog can bite. As a plastic surgeon, I have seen first hand the damage that a dog bite can do to a child. As a parent, you need to know how to safeguard your family against dog bites and what to do if a dog attacks your child. To prevent dog bites:

  • Do not let your pets run loose. A dog is less likely to bite if it has been trained to interact with people.
  • Teach your children not to stare at a dog, as it can be taken as a challenge.
  • Don’t leave children or infants unsupervised with a dog.
  • Never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for its puppies.
  • Teach your children to ask permission before they pet a dog. They should not approach an unfamiliar dog at any time.

If a child is attacked:

  • Place an object between the child and the dog such as a jacket, towel or purse.
  • Try to loosen the dog’s grip by pushing your arm against its throat. Control the bleeding and wash the area with soap and water. Get medical help immediately to determine the risk of infection from rabies, or if plastic surgery is necessary.

Teach your child to curl into a ball and cover their head and face with their arms if they are knocked to the ground by a dog. They should stay in this position until the dog leaves.


Dog bites can leave wounds that require the services of a certified plastic surgeon. They can also leave more than physical scars, so please be sure to teach your children to be safe around dogs.


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