Pet Safety

June 20, 2009 5:44:23 AM PDT
Pets and kids usually get along, but there are some things that parents should be aware of, now that children and their furry friends are spending more time together in the summer months. Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, the senior veterinary advisor for the Animal Medical Center, joined us with tips. How prevalent are dog bites in America?
There are an estimated 4.7 million dog bites to humans each year. Summer is the time of year that we see an increase in dog bites.

Who is most likely to be bitten?
The rate of injury is highest among children 5-9 years of age. Children are treated for dog bite-related injuries three times more often than adults; 70% of dog bite fatalities are in children under 12.

Why is that?
Children tend to get excited around dogs and can approach them quickly, talk loudly and try to hug or pet the animal.

Are you most likely to be bitten by a stray dog?
Only 25% of dog bites are inflicted by strays; most dogs that bite humans are owned and 25% of them are family pets. Kids are usually bitten in the hands and face. They think they're safe because it's their dog, but the same rules apply for everyone.

What are some steps you can take to avoid being bitten?
Before petting someone's dog, ask permission. If it's OK, approach slowly and quietly. Let the dog sniff you first, then pet the dog's sides or back gently.

Never sneak up on or pet a dog that is eating or sleeping. Animals can bite when they're startled or frightened.

Never pet a dog that is playing with a toy. Dogs are often protective of toys.

Never try to pet a dog that is in a car. Dogs will often protect that space.

Never pet a dog that is behind a fence. Most dogs naturally protect their property and home.

What should one do if a dog starts to attack?
If you are walking, stop and stand still like a tree, with your hands at your side.
If you are playing on the ground, lie still on the ground (like a log) with your knees tucked into your stomach and your hands over your ears. When you stay still and quiet like this, the dog will most likely just sniff you and go away.

How to create a safe environment for cats and kittens

Cats and kittens, like little children, love to explore. So, it is important to make sure your home is safe for your new pet. Here are a few tips to remember:

Cats can swim, but containers of water may still pose a danger, especially for young kittens. Remember to close bathroom doors, put lids down on toilets and cover any pools, buckets or tubs of water. Many cats too, like to sip the water in toilets -bleach or other types of cleaners can be lethal to cats if ingested.

Be careful of toxic plants which include lilies, tulips, paperwhites, amaryllis azaleas, chrysanthemums, and holly. Remember cats like to climb, so even putting them high up in on furniture may not protect your cat.

Watch out for electrical cords. Put them behind furniture as much as possible and encase exposed cords in clear plastic tubing.

Do not allow your kitten or cat to play unattended with string, yarn or some cat toys which include long pieces of cloth. Cats can become entangled in the cloth or more dangerous is the potential for them to swallow the string which can cause serious internal injury.

Keep your cat indoors. Traffic, dogs or wild animals such as raccoons or large birds pose serious dangers to your cat. Even other cats may carry viruses which can be fatal. While your cat may love to roam outside, it is simply a better option for them to stay in.

Plastic bags, an attractive item on which cats love to pounce, should be removed from a cat's play area to avoid entanglement or suffocation or inadvertent ingestion.

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