In the United States, over 36% of families own one dog or more. And for good reason too; dogs are known to help decrease stress levels, increase exercise levels, and provide companionship. But owning dogs comes with a serious risk – dog bites.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “dog bites can cause pain and injury, but they can also spread germs that cause infection”. Dog bites are dangerous and can infect people with serious diseases such as: rabies, Pasturella, and MRSA. As a result of serious wounds and potential infection, approximately 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention (CDC).
Take it from me – dog bites are nothing to take lightly. I was bitten by a large dog when I was in high school and the bite was severe enough it landed me in the emergency room. In the end, everything was A-okay (myself and the dog), but I could have prevented the bite in the first place had I followed these helpful tips:
Always ask the pet owner if it’s okay to pet their dog.
Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog. The CDC recommends “being still like a tree”.
Avoid direct eye contact with unfamiliar dogs.
Allow unfamiliar dogs to see and sniff you before you pet it.
Remain calm with unfamiliar dogs. Don’t make sudden or loud noises, as they could startle the animal.
Don’t leave small children to play with a dog unsupervised.
If you follow these tips you’re much less likely to be bitten by a dog. However, freak accidents do happen. If you find yourself bitten or attacked by a dog, immediately wash your wounds with soap and water. Medical attention may be necessary if the wound has uncontrolled bleeding, loss of function, extreme pain, muscle or bone exposure, etc. or it has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot and the bite is deep (CDC).
In addition, the bite should be reported to the appropriate authorities. Since anyone who is bitten by a dog is at risk of rabies infection, medical centers are required by law to report dog bites. Here at the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department, our Environmental Health section works diligently to monitor diseases like rabies. Any time someone is bitten by a dog we are sent an incident report that is investigated immediately.
As always, our staff are available and ready to answer any questions you may have. Questions regarding dog bites and rabies prevention should be directed to our Registered Sanitarian, Jeff Kiger at 304-265-1288. You can also contact us by visiting our website at www.GTCHDWV.org. We look forward to hearing from you!