Dogs are sweet, loving, and therapeutic but, at the end of the day, they are animals — and they can bite. National Dog Bite Prevention Week, occurring every second week in April and backed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, aims to bring awareness to the fact that although dogs are part of the family and provide companionship and immense joy, they can bite as well. And when they bite, it’s painful and dangerous. An estimated 4.5 million people in the U.S., mostly children, are bitten by dogs annually and 20% of those require immediate medical attention. This week, let’s work towards creating awareness that prevention is certainly better than cure when it comes to life-threatening dog bites.
History of National Dog Bite Prevention Week
National Dog Bite Prevention Week emphasizes that although dogs are nice animals, all of them can bite when caught off guard. Getting bitten more than once on one occasion by a dog is called a dog attack. Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t only watch out for being bitten by a rabid dog. No matter how cuddly or fuzzy you think your pet is, it could bite you if provoked. A dog’s breed is not the determinant of whether or not it will attack when goaded — it’s dependent on the dog’s history and behavior.
Rabies, the disease that is caused by the bite of a rabid dog and leads to inflammation in the brain, resulting in death, terrorized thousands of civilizations in the early years of its diagnosis. The origin of the word ‘rabies’ is from the Sanskrit word ‘rabhas,’ meaning ‘to do violence,’ as well as from the Latin word ‘rabere,’ meaning ‘to rave.’ The virus that causes rabies is classified in the genus Lyssavirus, which is derived from the ancient Greek word ‘lyssa’ meaning ‘rage.’
The first occurrence of rabies causing death can be traced back to 2300 B.C., found in the Mosaic Esmuna Code of Babylon. The Babylonians were charged with hefty fines if their dogs transmitted rabies to another person or animal. A Roman scholar Celsus, in the first century A.D., discovered that the rabies disease was transmitted to others by the saliva of the biting animal. He went on to reveal a (strange) cure for rabies that involved holding patients underwater — some, of course, died of drowning.
In collaboration with State Farm Insurance, the American Humane association, the Insurance Information Institute, and Victoria Stilwell Positively, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) founded National Dog Bite Prevention Week as a part of a coalition project to raise awareness and teach safety around pets.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week timeline
Calcified hairballs found in the stomachs of cows, goats, and deer are shown to have curative powers for bite wounds as Robert, the son of Abraham Lincoln, survives a rabid dog bite.
French chemistry teacher, Louis Pasteur, discovers that an attenuated strain of a vaccine works on rabies but he isn’t convinced until he tries it on himself.
Nine-year-old, Joseph Meister, when mauled by a rabid dog is given Pasteur’s post-exposure, prophylactic vaccine as the only prevention against rabies — and it works!
From 2005 to 2018, approximately 471 people lose their lives due to something as preventable as a dog-bite.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week FAQs
When should you get a dog bite checked out?
People should seek emergency medical attention for a dog bite if they have: uncontrollable bleeding from the wound. a fever. a red, swollen, or painful wound.
How do you make your dog stop biting you?
It’s against the nature of an animal not to bite. You can train them to behave better, but they can still bite if provoked or if feeling isolated.
Can a human survive rabies without treatment?
New research has shown that humans may be able to survive Rabies without vaccination or treatment after all.
How To Observe National Dog Bite Prevention Week
Educate your family and friends
Take this week as an opportunity to educate your friends, families, and neighbors that any dog can bite, regardless of its breed. Teach the people around you that even well-trained dogs are capable of biting, especially if you disturb them while eating or sleeping, or if they are caught off guard, like by a postal carrier.
Be a responsible dog owner
Learn how to be a responsible dog owner. Use this week to map out your responsibilities as a dog owner. Schedule regular veterinary-care check-ups, teach children to treat dogs with respect, give your dog some mental and physical exercise, use a leash in public, and keep your dog away or locked in a room if it tends to be aggressive towards strangers and someone visits your house.
Use social media to emphasize any dog can bite
Learn more about dog bite prevention and use the #PreventDogBites hashtag to share updates, statistics, and important information on social media.
5 Facts About Dogs That Will Blow Your Mind
Dogs do dream
Your furry friend dreams of all doggy things as found by an author of psychology.
They can see better in the dark
Dogs have light-sensitive cells that allow them to see much clearer in the dark than you do.
Dogs have unique nose print
Like our fingerprints, no two dogs have the same nose prints.
Doggy pepper spray
Emperors in China would carry small and fierce Pekingese dogs in their sleeves to scare away shady characters — almost like pepper spray.
They feel no remorse
Research shows that dogs feel no guilt whatsoever, so if your buddy puts on the puppy eyes for attacking you, do not be fooled.
Why National Dog Bite Prevention Week Is Important
One in every five people bitten by dogs require medical attention
More than 800,000 people every year in the U.S. require proper medical attention after being bitten by dogs for pain relief, treatment against infection, plastic reconstructive surgery, and other treatments to alleviate the complications.
Children are the easiest victims of dog attacks
Out of all dog-bite victims, children aged nine years and younger show the highest rates of being bitten. Those bitten reported nerve damage, facial feature damage, and emotional damage.
Any dog can bite
We need to stop believing that only some dog breeds bite, or only some dog bites can cause severe complications. This week is important to emphasize that it doesn’t matter how gentle a dog looks, it can bite when provoked.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week dates