Veterinarians Host National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 18 24

Schaumburg, IL

— The AVMA has become the official host of National Dog Bite Prevention Week. As such, they are once again teaming up with the organizations such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to promote responsible pet ownership and dog bite prevention.

“This is an excellent opportunity for veterinarians to work side by side with our human healthcare colleagues to educate the public that responsible dog ownership and appropriate behavior around dogs benefits the well-being of dogs and people,” said AVMA President Joe M. Howell, D.V.M. “More than 61 million dogs in the United States make great pets and enrich our lives tremendously. Unfortunately, any dog can also bite,” Dr. Howell added.

Each year, nearly 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. As many as 800,000 people, more than half of them children, require medical attention for dog bites annually, and about a dozen people die each year from dog bite injuries.

“Children are frequently bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection or scarring,” said ASPS President Dr. James Wells. Dr. Wells added. “Plastic surgeons, who have the training to preserve and rearrange skin and tissue, repair wounds from thousands of dog attacks every year. Following these dog bite prevention tips and educating the public will help prevent attacks,” he added.

Committed to educating the public about this important health issue, the AVMA and ASPS have educational resources available on their Web sites and have developed the following tips to help dog owners; adults and children avoid dog bites.

Safety Tips for Dog Owners:

  • Before getting a dog, seek the advice of a veterinarian about which dog is right for your family and your lifestyle.
  • Socialize your dog so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Don’t put your dog in situations where it may feel threatened or be teased.
  • Follow leash laws. Don’t let your dog roam freely.
  • Train your dog to consistently obey basic commands such as “stay,” “sit,” and “come.”
  • Keep your dog healthy with regular check-ups and a vaccination program tailored to your dog’s needs.
  • See a veterinarian promptly if your dog is sick or injured. Illness and pain can make a dog more likely to bite.
  • Don’t play aggressive games with your dog.
  • Spay/neuter your dog.
  • Confine your dog in a fenced yard or dog run when it is not in the house. Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior.

Safety Tips for Adults and Children:

  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • If approached by an unfamiliar dog, stand still like a tree.
  • Never run from a dog and never scream around a dog.
  • If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
  • If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball, cover your face and stay still.
  • Children should never play with dogs unless supervised by an adult.
  • Children should tell an adult if they see a stray dog or a dog acting strangely.
  • Don’t look a dog right in the eye.
  • Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Don’t play with a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first. Children should never approach a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Adults should never leave an infant or young child alone with any dog, not even the family pet.

If Bitten:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Control bleeding and wash the area of the bite with soap and water.
  • Because serious dog bites can cause scarring, ask emergency room personnel for a plastic surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. This ensures that the doctor is uniquely qualified to perform reconstructive and cosmetic procedures on the face and all areas of the body.
  • Report the bite to your local public health department, animal control agency, or police.
  • Provide authorities with an accurate description of the dog, the circumstances surrounding the bite, and the dog owner’s identity, if known.


AVMA Web site:

“A community approach to dog bite prevention,” a comprehensive report; single printed copies may be obtained directly from the AVMA at no charge.

“Don’t worry, they won’t bite,” a brochure available on the AVMA Web site or single printed copies may be obtained directly from the AVMA at no charge.

Fido! Friend or Foe? — Children’s Activity Book; available for purchase

ASPS Web site at

“Beware the Bite!” Bite prevention campaign material, including a children’s activity sheet.

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is the oldest and largest veterinary medical organization in the world. More than 69,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA members are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine including its relationship to public health and agriculture. Visit the AVMA Web site at to learn more about veterinary medicine and animal care and to access up-to-date information on the association’s issues, policies, and activities.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), founded in 1931, is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world and the foremost authority on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. The ASPS represents physicians certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. For referrals to ABPS-certified plastic surgeons in your area and to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, call the ASPS at (888) 4-PLASTIC (888-475-2784) or visit


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