Do your part to prevent dog bites

A few simple reminders can keep veterinary clients protected in potentially dangerous situations.
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May 21, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States. And while some of those cases may have been unavoidable, some could have been prevented.

May 19 to 25 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and it’s a perfect time for you and your staff to make sure you’re doing your part to keep your clients and their loved ones safe. And that means not only educating them on how to be responsible pet owners, but also discussing what they should do if they encounter an unfamiliar—and potentially aggressive—dog.

Here are some dos and don’ts for clients, courtesy of the AVMA. Consider posting these tips through your own social media pages and accounts and/or in your latest e-newsletter:

> Don’t run past a dog. Our four-legged friends are naturally playful and love to chase things. But if you’re unfamiliar with a dog’s temperament, you don’t how he’ll respond to a moving object—and it could be aggressively.

> Don’t reach through or over a fence to pet a dog. Even the cutest dog can become aggressive if she’s protective of her territory, and your gesture to pet her may be seen as a threat. Better to keep moving.

> Do stay still and remain calm. If approached by an unfamiliar dog, stay still if he sniffs you—chances are, he’ll move on. If the dog becomes threatening, avoid eye contact and hold your position quietly until he leaves. If you must speak, do so calmly and firmly. If the dog shows no signs of leaving, back away slowly until he’s out of sight.

> Do curl into a ball. If a situation escalates and you’re attacked by a dog or knocked to the ground, curl into a ball and cover your head and neck. Remain as quiet as possible.