As parents, few things are better than watching your child and dog interact and get along well. Unfortunately, accidents are commonplace, including ones where a dog bites a child. In fact, did you know that dog bites are actually quite common? According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 42 percent of dog bites involve children that are 14 years old and younger. That said, it’s probably a good idea to educate yourself on what to do if your child is ever bitten by a dog. 

One of the most important bits of knowledge you can pass onto your children is to be wary and guarded around dogs they don’t know. If there is a random, unfamiliar dog wandering the streets, teach them not to run up to it but to instead alert a grown up. If they are ever approached by an unfamiliar dog, they should remain still and refrain from petting the dog until its owner shows up. Similar advice can be applied to household dogs. If your family dog is sleeping or eating or tending to its puppies, teach your children not to disturb the dog. Also, never leave young children alone with dogs, even your family pet. 

Even if you follow these tips, there is still the chance that an accident could occur. So, what should you do if your child is bitten by a dog? Let’s find out:

  • Jump into Action: When your child is bitten by a dog, take action immediately to clean out any dirt, debris, and bacteria that the dog may have left behind. If this important step isn’t taken, the bite can become infected and can result in bigger problems down the road. 
  • Treat and Wrap the Wound: Regardless of whether the dog bite breaks the skin or not, you should always treat it by applying an antibiotic cream before wrapping the wound in a bandage. This will keep the site clean and speed up the healing process. 
  • When to Go to the ER: Not every dog bite requires a trip to the emergency room. However, bites to the face, head, neck, and ears should always be seen by a healthcare professional, especially if you’re concerned that the dog may have been infected with rabies. By knowing when to go to the emergency room, you can ensure your child gets any necessary medicines, antibiotics, and stitches.

Even if you don’t end up taking a trip to the emergency room, you should keep a watchful eye on your child and be on the lookout for signs of infection. Signs of infection can include fever and swelling around the bite. If the wound does become infected, you will need to visit your child’s doctor. If it doesn’t get infected, use the incident as a learning experience teach your child(ren) about pet safety.