Anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race, can suffer personal injuries due to dog bites during the summer. However, a recent study found the risk to be greatest for young children.

According to the study, which analyzed 84 cases of dog bites in children, young children are also particularly vulnerable to severe bites to the head and neck areas, probably because of their short stature. The most common bite wounds on the head and neck were to the cheeks (34 percent), lips (21 percent), and nose and ears (both eight percent). Sixty-four percent of the children were bitten in multiple locations and the average wound size was 7.15 centimeters. The study said family pets were responsible for 27 percent of the attacks and pit bulls were the breed most likely to be involved. 

In the U.S., dog bites make up approximately one percent of all emergency room visits each year, including 44,000 facial injuries. There are a significantly higher number of bites that go untreated each year.

Experts advise the following precautions to help avoid dog bites:

- NEVER a baby or young child with a pet without supervision.

- Teach young children, including toddlers, about safety around pets.

- Do not get a dog until your children are older than age four.

- Be careful when selecting a pet for your family and ensure that its vaccinations are kept up-to-date.

- Do not bother animals that are eating or caring for their young.

- Keep pets on a leash in public.

- Avoid sick animals or strange animals.

- If animals are fighting, do not try to separate them.

- If a dog threatens you, remain calm and do not scream or try to run away.

- If you fall or an animal knocks you to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck.

If you are bitten, the first thing you should do is seek immediate medical attention for the wound. If you are the dog’s owner, confine it and ensure that its rabies vaccinations are current. If a stray dog bites you, you should contact the authorities and give them any information you have about the dog, the owner (if you know who it is), the dog’s appearance, where the encounter occurred, and if and when you have seen the dog before. You should also ask a physician if you require post-exposure rabies treatment.

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