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Snarling dog from Darwin's Expression of Emotions

Dog bite prevention is the effort to educate the public about how to prevent being attacked and bitten by a dog or dogs. In the United States, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year and up to 800,000 people are treated for dog bites annually. About half are children. Young children are typically bitten by familiar or family dogs during normal activities. Some people, like the very young or the very old are more susceptible to being bitten and therefore may need additional methods of prevention.[1][2]

In addition to causing pain, injury, or nerve damage, almost one out of five bites becomes infected, placing the bite victim at risk for illness or death. Those who work and live around dogs should be aware of the risk and take precautions.[1] Rabies is a particular risk associated with dog bites. In the United States between 16,000–39,000 people come in contact with potentially rabid dogs and other animals and receive rabies pre- and postexposure prophylaxis against the rabies virus each year.[3] Because anyone who is bitten by an unvaccinated dog is at risk of getting rabies, local animal control agencies or police are sometimes able to capture the animal and determine whether or not it is infected with rabies.[1]


Identifying riskEdit

Identifying the risk of being bitten by a dog can prevent an attack and subsequent injury or death. Infants and children are more likely to be bitten. Small children can be attacked if they approach or play with a dog when they are not supervised. Among children, the rate of dog-bite–related injuries is highest for those five to nine years old. Children are more likely than adults to need medical attention for dog bites. Men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog. Over half of dog-bite injuries occur in the home. Having a dog in the household is associated with a higher likelihood of being bitten than not having a dog. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.[1][2]

The behavior of a dog may not always indicate its friendliness or unlikelihood of biting. This is because when a dog wags its tail, most people interpret this as the dog expressing happiness and friendliness. Though indeed tail wagging can express these positive emotions, tail wagging is also an indication of fear, insecurity, challenging of dominance, establishing social relationships or a warning that the dog may bite.[4]


Many organizations, nonprofit, companies, educational entities and governmental agencies publish recommendations for the public in the prevention and treatment of dog bites. [5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Preventing Dog Bites". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 18, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2017.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.   This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. ^ a b "Dog Bite Prevention". American Veterinary Medical Association. 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  3. ^ "Human Rabies Prevention, United States, Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices" (PDF). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2008. p. 2. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Coren, Stanley (December 5, 2011). "What a Wagging Dog Tail Really Means: New Scientific Data Specific tail wags provide information about the emotional state of dogs". Psychology Today. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "Animal and Human Bites". National Health Service (NHS). Retrieved 12 January 2019.

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