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What to do if a dog bites your child

Children are particularly susceptible to dog bites. Kids, particularly if they have had past experience with friendly dogs, may assume all dogs are comfortable being petted. Children do not realize that dogs can become frightened by strangers and may not know how to approach a newly met animal.

Dog bites can be serious. Wounds are susceptible to infection. If bitten in the hands, there can be lasting damage, including nerve damage. Facial wounds can leave scars. In addition, children often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after a dog attack.

How to treat a dog bite wound

According to the American Association of Pediatrics, parents should take all dog bites seriously - even if it's a scratch, it can't be ignored. If it's serious, of course, call 911 immediately. If the bite isn't immediately life-threatening, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • To schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician, in order to assess the extent of the damage and to help prevent infection.
  • Contact the dog's owner. Ask for proof of rabies vaccination. Get the dog's veterinarian information so you can be aware of any possible complications.
  • Wash the wound as soon as possible after the attack. Spend plenty of time and soap to clean the area as thoroughly as possible.
  • Verify your child's vaccinations are up to date, and the last time your child had a tetanus shot.
  • Keep all documents related to the incident. Take a photograph of the wound. Keep track of medical appointments. Write down what happened. This evidence can be used to help you in a lawsuit, and may help police determine if the dog will be put down.

Dogs can make wonderful pets, but animals can become scared for a variety of reasons. In New Jersey, pet owners are responsible for the injuries caused by their dog, even if the dog has no previous history of violent behavior. That means if your child was seriously injured by a dog, you may be able to get financial help for medical expenses and other costs associated with the incident.

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