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: Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

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 ...

Recommended for you

Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

7 hours ago

Each year thousands of students enroll in medical schools across the country. But just how many feel they've been disrespected, publicly humiliated, ridiculed or even harassed by their superiors at some point during their ...

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

15 hours ago

When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.

Nurses go on strike in Ebola-hit Liberia

16 hours ago

Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African nation.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

User comments : 0