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Kids at Higher Risk of Dog Bites in Warm Weather

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

As the weather warms up so does the risk for dog-bite injuries to younger children. That’s the result of a new study by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo published in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

In a review of injuries treated at their children’s hospital, the researchers found that the incidence of head and neck dog-bit injuries peaked in the summer.

This may have to do with the fact that children are outdoors in good weather and that dogs tend to be more irritable in hot temperatures the researchers said.

Young children are especially at risk of dog bites because of their size and inability to sense danger said Dr. Philomena M. Behar. Of the 84 children in the study, ages ranged from 10 months to 19 years, but the average age was six. About half of the injured children were four-years-old or younger.

Dr. Behar’s team also found that the family pet was to blame in 27 percent of cases.

“Family dogs caused injury a large part of the time,” Behar told Reuters Health, “and caution should be used by caregivers of small children when there are dogs around – especially in warmer weather.”

In general, experts advise that parents teach children how to treat dogs – telling them, for instance, that they should not pull a dog’s ears or tail, pet strange animals or reach through fences to touch a dog.

Training the family dog is also important. Commands, experts say, can build obedience and a bond of trust between the dog and owner. Dogs that are neutered are also less likely to bite.

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