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What do I do if a dog bites my child?

As your child plays in your yard in Indiana, a pedestrian with an unleashed dog approaches on the sidewalk. Your child hurries toward the dog to pet it, and the animal perceives the gesture as a threat and attacks. You quickly get your child to safety, but the damage has already been done. What should you do next?

According to, not only are children between five and nine years old the most likely to sustain a dog bite, they are also the most likely to need medical attention. Experts recommend that you take your child to a health care provider or emergency department, even if the wound does not appear to be severe. Rabies is a serious threat when the dog has not had its vaccinations. If the disease is present and your child does not immediately begin rabies therapy, and then he or she develops signs of rabies, there is a high risk of death.

Even a bite that does not break the skin could cause damage to muscles, blood vessels, nerves and bones underneath. Dogs often have powerful jaws, and the pressure can result in serious tissue injuries. Because the attack frightened your child, he or she is probably crying, but you should try to find out whether the bite area is painful, as this could indicate that you should make a trip to the ER. 

The visit to the doctor is not typically the end of the danger. Dog bites often get infected due to the bacteria transferred from the animal's saliva, so you should watch your child's wound carefully for signs of infection such as warmth, redness, tenderness, pain and swelling. Children may also suffer emotional trauma from an attack, so it is a good idea to also be on the alert for anxiety or other signs of distress. 

This information about dog bites has been provided for educational purposes, and should not be interpreted as medical or legal advice.

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