Summer is a peak season for dog bites and attacks. During summer weather, more adults, children, and even pets are involved in outdoor activities that create motion and noise, known agitation factors for dogs in hot temperatures.
Dangers During Summer Dog Bite Season
More than 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year, especially during summer months when temperatures rise. Summer is considered dog bite season around the country because of hot weather and increased outdoor activities. Henderson personal injury lawyers see a rise in injuries from dog attacks to both adults and children when Henderson Nevada temperatures soar to triple digits.
According to animal researchers and veterinarians, scientific data shows that dog bites and attacks rise during the summer, because the summer heat contributes to agitated and aggressive behaviors. Stanley Coren, a researcher with Psychology Today, notes that canine tempers, much like human tempers, are more likely to flair in hot weather. In countries like China and India with large populations of stray dogs, people are warned to avoid direct contact with strays, especially in packs, when outdoor temperatures are soaring.
Like many people, dogs become stressed, agitated, and more aggressive when they are overheated, dehydrated, and overstimulated. Dogs always give warning signals that show agitation such as growling, barking, pacing, shaking, lunging, or backing away when they are stressed or afraid. When warning signals are heeded, dog bites and attacks may be prevented, but unfortunately many adults, and especially young children ignore those warning signals.
Preventing Dog Bites and Attacks
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the majority of severe injuries and wrongful deaths from dog bites occur to young children between 5 and 9 years of age. Small children should always be supervised by a parent or adult when around a dog, even the dog is a family pet. Many severe dog bites to small children occur to the face or neck, because children often attempt to hug or kiss the dog. The dog may take this as a threatening behavior. To prevent dog bite injuries, adults and children should follow some important prevention tips:
Avoid Interactions with Unrestrained Dogs
It is dangerous to approach a stray or unfamiliar dog or one that is not leashed. Lost or stray dogs are more likely to be injured, afraid, and hungry, so they may perceive an approaching person as a threat to their safety. Dogs in fear instinctively exhibit aggressive behaviors as a means of survival.
Ask Before Petting
With unfamiliar dogs, it’s important to ask the dog’s owner if it’s okay to pet the dog before approaching. If the owner says it’s safe, it’s best to proceed with caution. Dogs often react differently to strangers, especially to small children, and owners don’t always know how their dog will react.
Do Not Approach a Dog that is Eating
Dogs are very territorial, so they may bite or attack to protect their food. Even familiar family pets may instinctively bite, if they think someone is trying to take their food away. Parents should teach children to wait for the dog to finish its meal before approaching or petting.
Be Cautious Around Dogs with Puppies
Like most animals, dogs often become aggressive when protecting their young. Family pets that are trusting of their owners may be easier to approach because they don’t feel threatened, but stray or unfamiliar dogs are likely to attack.
Injuries and Treatments
Out of the 4.2 million dog bites that occur annually, at least 800,000 injury victims require emergency medical treatment or hospitalization. Approximately 44 percent of severe injuries and/or deaths occur to children who are 14 years old and younger. Data shows that 50% of all dog bite reported cases involve a dog owned by the victim’s family or the victim’s neighbors. A personal injury lawyer Henderson sees a large percentage of dog bite cases involving small children and dog breeds considered to be more dangerous, such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chows, and German Shepherds.
Dog bites can result in serious injuries that may become infected, require surgery, or cause Rabies. In some personal injury lawsuits, punitive damages may be awarded to the injury victim for a dog owner’s negligent actions that caused such injuries.
If a dog bite becomes infected, the victim may experience the following symptoms:
- Fever and chills
- Pain lasting longer than 24 hours
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Redness, swelling, and warmth around the wound
- Drainage from the wound
- Difficulty moving the affected body part
Dog bites can lead to tetanus infections and rabies, both serious conditions that can be life-threatening without proper medical treatment. The risk of a tetanus infection is greater for victims who have not received tetanus shots within five years. If bitten by a dog that may have rabies, immediate medical care is essential to prevent death.