Although adults can be bitten by dogs, children tend to be bitten more often than adults are. To make things worse, the injuries children receive from dog bites are often more severe than the injuries adults sustain.
Many times, children are bitten by dogs that are familiar to them, and if your household keeps a dog as a pet, there may be a greater chance that your child could be bitten. However, there are ways you can reduce your child’s risk of being bitten by your family’s dog or any other dog that your child may encounter.
How can I prevent the family dog from biting my child?
You often have more control when protecting your child from the family pet than you might have if your child encounters an unfamiliar dog. You can talk with professionals to determine the most appropriate breed for your family. If adopting, try to avoid adopting a dog with an aggressive past.
If you already have a dog, consider:
- Keeping your pet up to date with immunizations
- Spaying or neutering your pet
- Bringing your pet to obedience school
Infants and toddlers should never be left alone with a pet, but it is also important to supervise children of any age when they are with a dog. As you supervise these interactions, you can help teach your child how to behave safely around dogs to prevent being bitten.
What can I do if my child encounters an unfamiliar dog?
In general, it is usually best if your children avoid interacting with unknown dogs, especially if a dog is wandering around without an owner. Even with familiar dogs, your children should never run up to the dog or pet the dog without asking the owner.
If an aggressive dog approaches your children, instruct them to stand still and quiet like a tree. Yelling and running may make the situation worse. If the dog knocks a child to the ground, instruct the child to curl into a ball and covering his or her neck and ears with his or her hands.
What should I do if my child is bitten?
If a child is bitten, it is usually safest to take him or her to be examined by a doctor, even if the wound does not look deep. Dog bite wounds can easily become infected, and severe damage to muscle, bones, nerves and tendons may not be initially obvious.
Also, dogs can transmit diseases, like rabies, through their bites. To make sure the dog did not transmit diseases, your child’s doctor will probably want to know the dog’s vaccination history if you have that information or can acquire that information from the dog’s owner.
In Iowa, a dog’s owner can be held responsible for the damage his or her dog causes. If your child is injured by a dog, you may be able to receive compensation for your child’s medical expenses and other costs associated with the injury.