Most children love to play with cute animals, but unfortunately, this isn’t always safe. Even if a puppy or dog is usually gentle, it’s easy for a dog to interpret a child’s quick movements as signs of aggression. This is one reason why children are more frequently the victims of dog attacks than adults. The emergency care physicians of West Hills Hospital can help children heal from an animal bite , but prevention is always better than a trip to the hospital.
Approaching Unfamiliar Dogs
Kids need to hear information multiple times before they remember it—and even then, they may need frequent reminders. Don’t be shy about reminding your child to never approach unfamiliar dogs, even if a dog wanders into your family’s own yard. If your child does see an unfamiliar dog while playing in the yard, he or she should immediately go inside the house and inform an adult. To reinforce this lesson, consider comparing unfamiliar dogs to human strangers. You could remind your child that he or she wouldn’t hug the cashier at the supermarket and that petting an unfamiliar dog is much like this scenario.
Petting Dogs Safely
When it is permissible for a young child to pet a dog, he or she should only do so with adult supervision. Young kids need plenty of reminders to let the dog sniff the back of the hand first, then to pet the dog gently. Remind your child not to pull on the dog’s ears or tail, try to climb on the dog, or take toys or food away from the dog.
Dealing with Aggressive Dogs
Despite these safety precautions, aggressive dogs may still attack children . Emergency care physicians recommend teaching kids to be quiet and “still like a tree” when a dog approaches them. Kids should avoid looking directly at the dog, making sudden movements, yelling, or hitting the dog. If a dog does knock a child down, he or she should curl up into a ball. Emergency care physicians recommend covering the ears and head with the hands.
If your child is attacked by a dog, please call 911 without delay to request emergency care in the West Hills area. In addition to our unsurpassed emergency care, West Hills Hospital recently opened our Advanced Wound Care Center, which offers specialized care for patients with traumatic and hard-to-heal wounds. Non-emergent healthcare questions may be directed to a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321.