Dog Bites and Attacks

In America, there are about 4.5 million dog bites each year. If you are bitten, first protect yourself from additional bites, wash the wound with soap and water. If the skin is broken, check with your health care provider about getting stitches and getting the rabies shots and report the bite to county animal control.

Most pets dogs, are wonderful to have around and are very friendly, however, 60% to 90% of all animal bites in the United States come from dogs.

  • How do you avoid getting bitten by a dog? Start by being polite and respecting the dog's personal space. Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who's tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Don't pet a dog - even your own - without letting it see and sniff you first.

  • Don't disturb a dog while it's sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or caring for puppies. Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn't know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.

Pay attention to the dog's body language

  • Put a safe amount of space between you and a dog.

  • If you see the following signals, it may indicate that the dog is uncomfortable and might feel the need to bite:

- tensed body

- stiff tail

- pulled back head and/or ears

- furrowed brow

- eyes rolled so that whites are visible

- yawning

- flicking tongue

- intense stare

- backing away

  • When putting space between you and a dog who might bite, never turn your back on him and run away.

  • A dog's natural instinct will be to chase you.

What to do if you think you might be attacked?

  • If you are approached by a dog who might attack you, follow these steps:

- Resist the impulse to scream and run away.

- Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.

- Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until it is out of sight.

- If the dog does attack, "feed" it your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between you and the dog.

- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around."

  • Never attempt to break up a fight between dogs.

What to do if you're bitten by a dog?

  • If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic.

  • Immediately wash the wound with soap and warm water.

  • Contact your physician for additional care and advice.

  • Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including the owner's name and the address where he/she lives. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw it, whether you've seen it before and in which direction it went.

The National Humane Society