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Summer Dog Bites—What to Watch For

It’s summer, and while that means cookouts, beach trips, and outdoor fun, it also means there’s a greater risk of dog attacks. Every year, 4.5 million Americans, half of them small children, are bitten by a dog and the number of attacks tends to rise with the temperature. Whether being outside more increases our exposure to strange dogs or some dogs simply become more aggressive in the heat, it’s important to exercise caution in the summer. Here’s how to reduce the chances of a dog bite while enjoying the warm weather with your family.

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Look Out For Your Own Dog

While it may be hard to believe, the CDC reports that over half of all dog bites come from dogs that are familiar to us. They could be the dogs of our friends and neighbors, or even your own household pet. It’s important to do all you can to make sure your dog doesn’t overheat in the summer sun. Never leave your dog unattended outside or unattended with your children. If you or your children are playing with your dog outside, give them plenty of opportunities to rest indoors or in the shade, and ensure that they have access to clean water. Pay attention to signs of aggression from your pet, such as becoming stiff, growling, snapping, or snarling. These might be signs that they need space.

Teach Your Children Dog Safety

Children naturally love dogs, but they often don’t understand how rough they are with them or how dangerous pets can be when agitated. Taking the time to teach your children how to be gentle with dogs and approach them respectfully can reduce the chances of them getting bit. Furthermore, it’s important to educate your children about asking owners if it is okay to pet their dog and not to approach animals they don’t know, especially animals who are without an owner.

Avoid Strange Dogs

Dogs without a clear owner might be wild or sick. They can carry serious diseases and cause grievous harm. If a strange dog approaches you or your children this summer, remain calm. Do not panic or shout at the dog, as this can provoke the animal. Back away from the dog slowly and do not make eye contact with it—the dog could interpret that as a sign of aggression. If you are in a public space such as park or beach, move to a new area or leave altogether. If the dog has entered your yard, move everyone inside and shut the door. In both cases, consider calling your local animal control office to inform them of the incident.

Know What To Do If A Dog Attacks

Even if you do everything you can to avoid provoking a dog, you or your children could still be bitten. If that happens, make sure you know the proper first aid techniques to deal with the wound. In general, it is a good idea to seek medical attention for a dog bite right away, even if the wound seems superficial. Dog bites can appear shallower than they actually are and could puncture muscles, bones, and nerves. You should especially consider seeking medical attention if the dog is unknown to you and does not appear to have an owner, or if your child is bitten. Rabies is a concern if it cannot be verified that the animal has not had its rabies vaccinations or that the animal tests negative for rabies. If the dog does have an owner, try to obtain information about the dog’s vaccination history and any similar incidents in the past.

Exercising caution can greatly reduce the chances of a dog bite this summer. If you have any questions about dog bite law or if you or a loved one are bitten by a dog, don’t hesitate to contact a dog bite lawyer at Mazow | McCullough today for a consultation at (855) 693-9084.

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