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Animal and Human Bites - Prevention

The following tips may help prevent bite injuries.

Animals

  • Do not disturb animals, even your family pets, while they are eating, sleeping, or nursing. Animal mothers can be very aggressive when protecting their young.
  • Never leave a young child or baby alone with a pet.
  • Do not approach or play with unfamiliar or stray pets.
  • Teach children to ask permission from a pet's owner before petting the animal. Do not pet an animal without first letting it sniff you.
  • Don't run past a dog, because dogs naturally love to chase and catch things.
  • Many animals give a warning sign before they attack. If you have animals in your home, know their warning signs and teach them to your children.
  • Do not try to separate fighting animals. If available, water sprayed from a hose will often break up the fight.
  • If you see a threatening dog:
    • Stay still. Do not run.
    • Do not make direct eye contact with the dog or stare at the dog. Staring at a dog may be interpreted by the dog as a threat and aggression.
    • Don't scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly.
    • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.
    • Notify animal control and, if possible, speak with the dog's owners.
  • Tell children to report an animal bite to an adult immediately.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets.
  • Do not touch or tease wild animals.
  • Do not handle sick or injured animals or animals that are acting strangely.
  • Get help from animal control personnel if you need to rescue a trapped or injured animal. If no help is available, wear the heaviest gloves and clothing you have. Do not move quickly when approaching the animal, and talk in a low, gentle voice to reassure the animal.

Choose and care for your pets wisely

  • Do not buy a pet on impulse. Do some research and learn about how different types of pets act and what their needs are. Ask a veterinarian or your local humane society for more information.
  • Keep your animals healthy. Regular examinations and vaccinations are important for their health and for yours. Vaccinate pets against rabies and other diseases.
  • Promote attitudes of animal love and respect. Do not tolerate any form of animal abuse or cruelty.
  • Obedience-train your dogs. If you have children, involve them in the training so they can handle and learn respect for their companion animals. Keep pets on a leash in public areas.
  • Do not allow your pets to roam free. Fence your yard, and keep your pets on a leash in public areas.
  • Contact your local humane society or shelter about workshops for your school or service group that teach about animal care.

Human bites

  • Prevent human bites by controlling behavior that may lead to fights or abuse. For more information, see the topic Anger, Hostility, and Violent Behavior.
  • Teach your child not to bite. Biting most commonly occurs when many children are together, such as in child care centers. Most of the time, biting can be reduced by proper supervision and by helping children express their feelings in more appropriate ways. For more information, see the topic Biting.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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