Children should not be left unsupervised with dogs, say experts

Feb 23, 2007

Children should not be left unsupervised to play with a dog, say experts in this week’s BMJ. Their advice is part of a review aimed at doctors who deal with dog bites.

Dog bites and maulings are a worldwide problem, particularly in children, write Marina Morgan and John Palmer. Every year 250,000 people who have been bitten by dogs attend minor injuries and emergency units in the United Kingdom, and half of all children are reportedly bitten by dogs at some time, boys more than girls.

Accurate death figures are difficult to obtain, but in the past five years, two to three cases a year have made news headlines.

Based on the latest medical evidence, they advise doctors how to examine and treat a patient presenting with a dog bite. They discuss the risk of infection and when to refer to specialist care. For travellers bitten abroad, they suggest assessing the risk of rabies.

In terms of prevention, they suggest that children should be taught to treat dogs with respect, avoid direct eye contact, and not tease them. They should be taught not to approach an unfamiliar dog; play with any dog unless under close supervision; run or scream in the presence of a dog; pet a dog without first letting it sniff you; or disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.

Dog owners also need to change their behaviour, writes Rachel Besser, a children’s doctor and lifetime dog owner, in an accompanying article.

It is clear that not all dog owners appreciate that children should not be left unsupervised with a dog, she says. Just as some parents are obliged to take parenting classes, she would like to see equivalent mandatory classes for expectant dog owners to teach them about the responsibilities of dog ownership. Educational programmes for children are also needed to instil precautionary behaviour around dogs.

Finally, she would like to see vets advising dog owners about bite prevention, and doctors promoting bite prevention when treating patients who have been bitten by dogs.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Ice bucket challenge may change nonprofit world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dog bites in US reaching 'epidemic proportions'

May 15, 2014

Dog bites are reaching "epidemic proportions," a well-known TV dog trainer said Thursday, as video of a cat fearlessly chasing off a dog that bit a small boy in California went viral.

Asian elephants reassure others in distress

Feb 18, 2014

Asian elephants console others who are in distress, using physical touches and vocalizations, finds a study to be published in the open access journal PeerJ. The findings are the first empirical evidence of con ...

Seriousness of Animal Bites Under-Recognised in Australia

Dec 02, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- One in two Australians are bitten by an animal at least once in their lifetime and 2% of the population is bitten each year, according to a review article published in the latest issue of Emergency Medicine ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0