Why are Children Most Likely to be Bitten By a Dog?
Of all dog bite cases, 50% of those are experienced by children. Children are unfortunately more likely to be bitten by a dog than an adult.
This is because they do not understand how to play and interact with a dog correctly. To a young child, they may think they are showing affection to their favorite playmate, but what is a light squeeze or an affectionate ear tug to them may be painful to your dog. Dogs cannot understand that you may be hugging and squeezing them in an affectionate way all they know is that they are in pain or are feeling suffocated by you and they will react the only way they know how and this is unfortunately with a bite.
Teaching Children Boundaries:
It is incredibly important that parents teach young children that there are boundaries they should not cross with a dog. Children should be told that they are not allowed to pull a dog’s ears or tail. They also should be aware that they cannot lie or sit on them. Even if you have had your pet for years and are sure, they will never bite, do not risk it. If they feel threatened or are hurt any dog, even the most trusted can bite your child. This is a risk that is not worth it; it is much better to be safe than sorry.
It is advised that any family who would like to introduce a dog into their home but who already have children should instead wait until they are of school-going age. Children will be better able to grasp how they should treat a dog at this age. It is crucial that children know this as most who have been bitten have sustained injuries to their face and neck because of the proximity of the dog’s mouth. Therefore, because children are more likely to be bitten, it is important to take every precaution available to you.
However, if you do introduce a dog into your family while your children are younger than this, you need to be aware of the risks involved. You will have to be vigilant at all times since children are more likely to be bitten instead of an adult. As the parent and the owner of the dog all responsibility will fall on you. A young child will not be able to grasp the boundaries that are involved in owning a dog. And your pet cannot verbally tell you they are uncomfortable in a situation, but they will communicate this through their body language and as an owner you need to be able to read these signs and react to the situation immediately.
Also, because children are more likely to be bitten by a dog, they are also more susceptible of this incident affecting them. This type of trauma can affect them throughout their childhood and even into adulthood. An attack by a dog when you are young can affect how you feel about them forever. Therefore, It is evident that children who are bitten by a dog can experience both emotional and physical trauma. Because of this, it is important that parents seek treatment by professionals in this area, from doctors who may specialize in reconstructive treatment if the bite was a severe one and therapists and counselors for the emotional trauma that may come hand in hand with a dog attack.
Preventing Dog Bites in Children:
It is wise to teach your kids certain rules when it comes to dogs, so they lower their chance of ever being bitten due to inappropriate behavior toward your pet. Here are some general rules of etiquette for behaving around a dog.
- Firstly, and the most important rule is that parents should never leave their child alone with their dog even if you trust them one hundred percent. Children and dogs should be supervised at all time to prevent any incidents from occurring.
- Stay far away from a dog that is eating or sleeping as they may be startled if they are woken or disturbed, and their first instinct may be to snap or bite.
- Show children that they can show affection without kissing and hugging a dog. A simple rub or belly scratch will be appreciated but squeezing and hugging may make your dog agitated.
- Contrary to popular belief dogs do not like to be rubbed on the head, instead, scratch them under the chin.
- Dogs may become afraid if a small child is screaming and shouting near them so try and explain to children that they have to remain calm around dogs.
However, though you may obey all these guidelines a child can still, unfortunately, be bitten by a dog. If this does happen, the steps to treat the bite wound are the same as adults. See our article “dog bite care” for these specific steps. For children, doctors will rarely use stitches to close up puncture wounds as this increases the risk of infection. However, if the child has been bitten on the face or the neck which many children are, doctors may use sutures to prevent any scarring on someone so young.
In conclusion, because children are most likely to be bitten and are also more likely to be bitten on their faces or the neck, areas that are considered the most high risk for infections such as tetanus and rabies. It is, therefore, crucial to take steps that will reduce the possibility of a dog bite. To do this, parents need to teach their children the correct way to behave around a dog and what behavior is not allowed. Many parents immediately blame their dog when they bite, but dogs will warn us when they are unhappy in a situation, and it is our job to interpret these signs and to teach our children to watch out for them.