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Study finds bad bites given by family dogs

by JIM MCVEIGH, Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS) | July 6, 2015 at 2:34 a.m.

Research suggests that family dogs cause most dog bite injuries.

A recent study conducted by Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children's Hospital and published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery confirms that finding. More than half of the dog-bite injuries treated at the Phoenix hospital came from dogs belonging to an immediate family member.

The study assessed a 74-month period between 2007 and 2013 in which there were 670 dog-bite injuries treated at Phoenix Children's. Of those, 282 were severe enough to require evaluation by the trauma team or transportation by ambulance.

Characteristics of the most common injuries included:

• 55 percent of victims were male.

• The most common patient age was 5 years, but spanned from 2 months to 17 years.

• 28 dog breeds were identified; the most common dog was pit bull.

• More than 50 percent of the dogs belonged to the patient's immediate family.

• The most common injuries were lacerations (often to the face), but there were also a number of fractures and critical injuries such as severe neck and genital trauma.

"More than 60 percent of the injuries we studied required an operation," said lead author Dr. Erin Garvey, a surgical resident at Mayo Clinic. "While the majority of patients were able to go home the next day, the psychological effects of being bitten by a dog also need to be taken into account."

"The biggest warning from this study is that familiarity with a dog may confer a false sense of safety," said Dr. Ramin Jamshidi, senior author on the study and a pediatric surgeon at Phoenix Children's Hospital and medical director of pediatric trauma at Maricopa Medical Center.

"Above all, we are interested in the health of children, so we hope to educate families on the importance of following safety tips and guidelines when dealing with dogs, even the well-known family pet at home," Jamshidi said.

The hospital provided this advice for families with a dog in the house:

• Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog, including the family dog.

• Make sure all dogs in the home are neutered or spayed.

• Take time to train and socialize your dogs.

• Keep dogs mentally stimulated by walking and exercising them.

• Teach children appropriate ways to interact with animals.

ActiveStyle on 07/06/2015

Print Headline: Study finds bad bites given by family dogs

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