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Preventing Dog Bites

April 1, 2020

Dog Bite Prevention Week starts April 6th. Although our canine pals have been our friends and companions for thousands of years, it’s important to remember that even the sweetest dog can bite if they feel threatened. This is definitely one area where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A local Oconomowoc, WI vet discusses dog bites below.

Bite Statistics

According to recent data from the American Pet Products Association, there are about 90 million pet dogs in the US. Or, to put it another way, about 36 of American households include dogs. The American Veterinary Medical Association puts the number of dogs at about 78 million. Either way, that’s a lot of pups! The Center for Disease Control statistics show that there are about 4.7 million dog bites each year. About one in five of those require medical treatment.


Dog bites can be painful, and can also cause serious injuries. They can also spread diseases. Rabies is the deadliest, and is the only disease that has a 100% fatality rate once symptoms appear. Dog bites can also spread Pasteurella External, tetanus, and even MSRA, which can cause life-threatening infections in some people.

Risk Factors

Children are more likely to be bitten by dogs than adults. This is likely in large part because they don’t understand dogs’ body language, and don’t really comprehend that Fido doesn’t process information the same way we do. Things like loud noises, rough play, sudden movements, and unwanted petting can all make Man’s Best Friend feel threatened.


Fortunately, some simple guidelines will greatly reduce the possibility of being bitten. First and foremost, never pet someone else’s dog without asking. Also, always let dogs sniff you before trying to pet them. Never touch a pup that is sleeping, eating, or nursing puppies. If you see an unfamiliar dog, stay still, and avoid looking it in the eye. If possible, turn sideways. You’ll make a smaller profile, and will appear less threatening. (Of course, if the dog looks sick or injured, you’ll want to call an animal rescue service.) If you have children, make sure they understand these things as well. Last but not least, avoid rough play with your own dog. As a final precaution, stay current on your rabies and tetanus vaccines.

Please reach out to us, your Oconomowoc, WI vet clinic, anytime. We’re here to help!