Animal bites and scratches
- Children between the ages of one and four are at the greatest risk of being bitten by a dog.
- Small children are at the greatest risk because of their size, but also because they often don’t behave appropriately around dogs – pulling their tail, taking their food, putting their face into the face of the dog.
- All dogs – regardless of temperament, age, or breed – can bite.
- The beloved family pet is the most common biting culprit.
Cat scratch disease:
- Cat scratch disease is an infection that is spread by fleas amongst cats.
- The infection can be passed on to humans if an infected cat uses its claws to break the skin.
- Cat scratch disease usually appears as a lump at the site of the broken skin. This may last for several weeks and result in a gland (usually in the armpit or groin depending on where the scratch occurred) becoming sore and swollen.
- While most infections disappear without the need for any medical attentions, occasionally it’s necessary to take a course of antibiotics.
Preventing bites and scratches:
- Always supervise young children near dogs – even the family pet!
- Make sure that your dog is properly trained to sit, stay, drop and come.
- Choose a breed that is suited to your families’ lifestyle and environment.
- Teach your child to always ask permission from the owner before approaching an unfamiliar animal.
- Never surprise a sleeping or eating dog.
- Teach your child to stay calm, stand still and avoid eye contact rather than jump and shout, if he’s approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- It’s your responsibility to keep your child safe around animals so teach him how to behave safely around animals.
If your child is bitten:
- Wounds caused by cats and dogs can become easily infected because of bacteria on their claws and teeth.
- Always clean and disinfect the site of a scratch or bit thoroughly
- If there is any sign of infection (red, hot, swollen), see your GP for advice.
- Keep you child’s tetanus immunisation up to date to avoid the risk of tetanus.
Common Sense Advice. Share your experiences, tips and advice on the Kidspot Forum.
Last revised: Thursday, 19 June 2008
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.
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