Pet and Other Animal Bites: Prevention

  • Choose a pet who is friendly and tolerates children. Pit bull terriers and Rottweilers are especially dangerous and do not make good pets for young children. Do not take the risk.
  • Teach your dog the commands of “down” and “sit.” Teach your child how to give these commands.
  • Teach your children not to touch strange animals, break up dogfights, go near a dog who is eating, or touch a sleeping dog.
  • Children less than 4 years old should always be supervised around dogs and cats. Never allow them to tease animals.
  • Infants less than 1 year old should never be left alone in a room with a pet. Some infants have been attacked by pets, perhaps because the pets were jealous.
  • Protect your pet against rabies with yearly rabies shots. The first shot is normally given when your pet is 3 to 4 months old.
  • Teach your child not to run from a strange dog. Rapid movement can trigger a dog’s predatory instinct and cause it to start chasing and possible attacking.
  • Never keep wild animals as pets. For example, ferrets have disfigured the faces of young children with their bites.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2007-08-28
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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