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Children's Health

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Unsupervised Kids at Risk for Dog Bites

Study Shows if a Dog Bites a Child Once, He’s Likely to Bite Again

Severity of Dog Bites continued...

The study also found that 68% of bites occurred in children age 5 and younger, with the highest incidence in 3-year-olds at 15.8%.

Other key findings:

  • Adolescents were more likely than younger children to be bitten by an unknown dog.
  • 22.5% of bite victims required in-patient treatment.

“What is clear from our data is that virtually any breed of dog can bite,” Durairaj says. “The tendency of a dog to bite is related to heredity, early experience, later socialization and training, health and victim behavior.”

Parents Need to Be Aware of Dog-Bite Risks

He emphasizes that parents and other adults should realize that familiarity with a dog does not mean it won’t bite and that if a dog bites once, it is likely to bite again with the second attack possibly being more vicious than the first. He says a dog should be removed from the household the first time it bites, and not given a second chance.

“I was called in to see a dog bite,” he says. “A girl had a puncture wound to her lip. Two days later, I saw the same girl, but this time her eyelids were torn off and she had severe scalp and ear lacerations.”

He says it is the parents’ responsibility “to recognize aggressive breeds as well as behaviors and never allow their young children to be left unsupervised around any dog.”

The CDC says about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, and 885,000 of those require medical attention with a price tag of up to $250 million.

Researchers say parents and other adults should be better educated about dangers posed by dogs, whose bites account for about 1% of all emergency room visits in the U.S.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary because they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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