Young Children Most Vulnerable to Dog Bites According to Reuters Health

Every year, many thousands of children are treated across the United States for the effects of dog bites. Infants and toddlers aged two years or younger account for a significant proportion of those kids.

Unfortunately, many parents do not appreciate the importance of teaching their children how to interact properly with dogs. Dog safety is an essential skill from an injury prevention standpoint. If kids understand how to interact appropriately with dogs, they are far less likely to encounter aggressive behavior from them.

Man’s Best Friend

For many families, the dog is just as much a part of the family as the people. We form special bonds with our dogs; they are loyal and friendly creatures. However, they can be a potential source of injury, especially if children are overly aggressive when playing with them.

Even for families that do not own a dog, it is still worth teaching children about dog safety as they will likely frequently encounter dogs as they go about their lives. Roughly 37% of all households in the United States have at least one dog. There are around 70 million dogs in the entire country.

Five million people are attacked by dogs every year in the US; roughly half of those victims are children.

The Research

To establish which age groups are most at risk from incidents with dogs, researchers analyzed the case files of just under 8,000 incidents of dog bites logged in the years 2007 – 2014, which involved patients aged 17 and under.

The researchers discovered that 34% of these children were aged six – 12 years old while 30 percent were aged just two years old or younger. The vast majority of cases, a little under 84%, occurred at home. More alarmingly, over half of the bite wounds received were to the face, but only 20% of all the bites received were considered to be more than minor injuries.

The researchers were surprised to discover that there was such a prevalence of injuries among the youngest age groups, most of which occurred while at home. Many of these injuries were more severe than those seen in the older age groups. This might be a reflection of the rougher way that younger children interact with dogs.

Dog Bite Injuries

When kids are bitten by dogs, it can cause long-term problems. Not only can the physical injuries cause long-term disfiguration, there can also be a significant psychological impact from being attacked by a dog. Parents, therefore, need to think carefully before they introduce a dog into a home with young children.

If a child is injured by someone else’s dog and feel the injury should have been prevented, there might be a valid legal case against that person. To pursue a legal claim for an injury, research beforehand for attorneys in the area and arrange an interview. Research should include what to ask an attorney at the first meeting.

The primary message from this study is clear, parents need to exercise caution when they introduce a dog into a new environment with young children. Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they can cause serious injuries or even kill under certain circumstances.