This holiday season, dog owners advised to take measures to prevent dog bite injuries

Along with people across the U.S., Memphis area residents are busy recovering from the food comas they likely experienced during Thanksgiving and preparing for the upcoming holidays. During this time of year, families and friends gather to celebrate and be merry.

Homes come alive with the sights, sounds and smells that we readily associate with the holiday season. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, some people may become overwhelmed as relatives and friends from near and far gather at private residences and engage in annual rituals. This is also true of family pets and particularly dogs that may become overly excited, frightened and territorial.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, annually "more than 4.5 million people in the U.S.", many of whom are children, suffer dog bite injuries. Roughly 20 percent of those individuals who are bit seek medical care.

Every dog has the capacity to bite. Nipping or biting is a dog's way of defending itself and a dog may bite if it feels nervous, excited, stressed or threatened. Additionally, a dog may bite if it is suffering from a physical injury, isn't feeling well or is restrained and feels trapped.

Children are especially vulnerable to suffering dog bite injuries. A child may yank on a sleeping dog's tail, chase after a dog or invade a dog's space while it is eating. All of these scenarios may result in a dog nipping at, biting or even attacking a child.

This holiday season dog owners, who are hosting family and friends in their home, would be wise to take precautions and measures to prevent a situation in which a dog may become overwhelmed and stressed. In some cases, sequestering a dog in a bedroom or in a quiet area of a home may be the best option for one's loved ones and one's beloved canine companion.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association, "Dog Bite Prevention," 2014

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