Each year, the AVMA and other animal groups as well as the USPS observe Dog Bite Prevention Week during the second full week of April. Over 6,000 letter carriers are bitten by dogs every year.
With more than 70 million dogs living in our homes across the US, there is a distinct possibility that someone, somewhere, will be involved in a dog bite situation! We have more dogs per person that any other country in the world!
You have a 1 in 50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year!
Thomas. F Dock, Practice Manager and Veterinary Journalist, Noah’s Animal Hospitals, tells us what we need to know:
Dog Bite prevention tips
Exact statistics are not known, but experts estimate that more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Almost 1 million are seen in emergency rooms and other medical facilities, while the majority of bites go untreated or are considered mild by the victim. 39 people were killed by dog attacks in 2017.
About half of all dog bite attacks occur with children under the age of 12 and 10% occur in people over 70. 20% of all dog attack fatalities occur in people over the age of 70.
Dog bites account for 1/3 of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims, costing about $700 million.
While there is much speculation about the breeds of dog most likely to bite, it is difficult to truly ascertain what defines a “dangerous dog” or “dangerous breed”. Large dogs whose breed is more popular will be over-represented because of sheer numbers and because of bite force. Many mixed breed dogs are also mis-represented as “purebred” in bite encounters.
Dogs bite because they are defending themselves or their territory OR because they are frightened by the situation. Biting is a normal defensive mechanism for our canine friends, but it shouldn’t be allowed to happen indiscriminately.
As dog owners, we can start to prevent dog bites by:
Early and constant socialization
Proper selection of breed and type of dog for family, proper training and, if warranted, spaying and neutering (intact males represent 70-76% of reported dog bites)
Proper exercise (a tired dog is a good dog)
Education of children on proper approach to unknown dogs
Avoiding risky situations
Watching body language
How is the dog carrying him/herself? Look at ears, mouth, tail, and stance
Heartworms and Our Pets
Heartworms are parasites that can live in our pets’ heart and/or lungs, can live for 5-7 years and are often up to a foot long in length!
Spread by mosquitoes, these parasites can cause severe disease in our pets and Indiana ranks 12th in canine heartworm cases across the United States.
According to petsandparasites.org, in 2017, one out of every 73 dogs in Marion County tested positive for heartworms. Across the state, the numbers were even worse with 1 in every 62 pups coming up positive!
Heartworm disease can cause severe issues for our dogs, including exercise intolerance, significant cough, liver issues, accumulation of fluid on the abdomen or chest, anemia, bleeding from the nose or even death. The most common symptom exhibited by a dog who test positive for heartworms is no sign at all!
Treatment for heartworms is hard on the pet and hard on the wallet. It is not unusual for a pet to need over $1000 in treatments, diagnostics and hospitalization and still have to spend 6-12 months on cage rest.
Dogs aren’t the only host…our cats can also get heartworms, although their disease develops differently. There is NO approved treatment for cats.
The good news is that we have safe and effective parasite prevention products that can virtually stop your pet from getting heartworms. Products like Sentinel, Trifexis, Heartgard and many others are available through your veterinarian. A routine blood screening should be done to make sure your pet does not already harbor the parasite.
There’s even an injection that will protect your pet from heartworms for six months!!
Quite literally, every dog in our state is at risk for developing heartworm disease. Ask your veterinarian about the best ways to keep your canine friend safe!