Every year in the United States, 400,000 children require medical attention after being bitten by dogs. According to the Humane Society, 51% of all dog bite victims are children with children between five and nine at the highest risk. If your child is one of the many who are bitten, seriously consider seeking medical attention.
Even when they mean well, children aren’t always the most gentle or considerate playmates. Many dogs don’t appreciate having their eyes poked or their tails pulled, which could lead to an injured tail. My own daughter was bitten by our family dog when she attempted to put eyeliner on it. You never know what dogs or kids will do next, so they must be supervised at all times.
Why Dogs Bite Children
Adults are bitten by dogs almost as often as kids are, but when children are the victims the injuries tend to be more serious. This is because children are more likely to be bitten on the head and face. Children with dog bites are more likely to end up in the hospital. One of the most common reasons kids are bitten by dogs is fear and pain.
In the social media era, we have a new reason dogs bite children. Those cute babies with dogs posts we all watch and like every day often depict dangerous situations. When a baby is allowed to taunt or harm a dog for social media likes, it places both the baby and the dog at risk. This can be said about many popular posts.
When It’s Okay to Skip the Doctor
You may be able to skip the doctor if the bite is minor and your child has recently had a tetanus shot. This would be the case if the bite didn’t break the skin or it resulted in a minor scratch.
When this happens, wash the bite thoroughly with soap and warm water, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover with a bandage. The sooner you wash the wound the better, because any dog bite has the potential to get infected.
When It’s Time to See a Doctor
Here are two scenarios where you should definitely take your child to a doctor. This is the correct response if the bite is more serious but not serious enough to warrant a call to 911, for example a bite that is bleeding but not profusely.
You Don’t Know the Dog
If you know the dog that bit your child, you can ask the owner for the animal’s vaccination information. If you do not know the dog, you need to take your child to the doctor and tell them that you haven’t been able to verify the dog’s rabies shot status. Often the authorities will be able to locate the dog and confirm this information later.
The Wound Is Showing Signs of Infection
If the bite begins showing signs of infection, it’s also time to take your child to the doctor. Signs of infection can include fever, redness, swelling, chills, and red streaks near the bite. You may also see pus oozing from the wound or tenderness in the area around the bite.
When to Call 999
In the most extreme dog bite cases, it is necessary to call 999. This is only necessary if the child is seriously wounded and needs emergency medical care right away. You will know if a bite warrants a 999 call if the bleeding is severe, your child feels faint, if it won’t stop after applying pressure for 10 minutes, or if blood is spurting from the wound.
When you make the call, it’s important to stay calm and focus. You’ll need to answer the emergency dispatcher’s questions about the bite and the animal. If the dog is still on the loose, this information will help the authorities to capture it before it can bite someone else.
Another situation that warrants a call to 999 is a dog who is still on the scene and behaving aggressively. The dog could hurt other people, so it needs to be captured immediately.
When a Lawsuit Is Justified
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, dog owners should be held legally responsible for any damage or harm their dog causes. The ASPCA also believes owners who train dogs to be aggressive should face criminal prosecution.
If your child has been bitten and you have damages as a result, a lawsuit against the dog’s owner is justified. This could be a stranger or it could be a friend or family member. In most cases, insurance would pay these damages and it would not come directly out of the dog’s owner’s pocket.