Animal Bites: Prevention
Most bites are from dogs and cats. A friendly pet can reach its limit with a pestering toddler and suddenly turn on her. The mouth is a dirty place -- containing many bacteria that can cause wound infections or even tetanus. If it's a stray dog, he may carry rabies.
These are some steps you can take to prevent animal bites:
Choose a pet who is friendly and tolerates children. Pit bull terriers can be extremely dangerous. German shepherds, Dobermans, and St. Bernards usually don't make good pets for young children. Don't take the risk.
- Never keep wild animals as pets. As an example, ferrets have chewed on and disfigured the faces of young infants who couldn't move away.
- Infants less than one year old should never be left alone in a room with a pet. Some infants have been attacked by pets, perhaps because the pets were jealous. There are rare reports of sleeping newborns being smothered by cats.
- Children less than four years old should always be supervised around dogs and cats. Never allow them to tease animals.
- Teach your children not to touch strange animals, break up dogfights, go near a dog who is eating, or touch a sleeping dog.
- Teach your dog the commands of "down" and "sit." Teach your child how to give these commands, even with strange dogs.
- Teach your child not to run from a strange dog. Rapid movement can trigger a dog's predatory instinct and cause it to start chasing and possibly attack.
If you have other questions about animal bites, consult your healthcare provider.Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.