Dog Bite Prevention

Dog Bite Facts:

  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.

There are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children and yourself about how - or whether - to approach a dog. Information and education are the best solutions for this public health crisis.

April Brings National Dog Bite Prevention Week®!

The second full week of April is celebrated every year as National Dog Bite Prevention Week®, and the AVMA has related materials for use by both veterinarians and pet owners. Among others, these include:

More information and resources can be found on the National Dog Bite Prevention Week® page.

Veterinarians, Lawmakers and Animal Control Officers

The following AVMA resources provide more about dog bite prevention:

Socialization of Dogs and Cats
Get good information to teach clients about socialization, including free client handouts for new puppy and kitten owners, plus a socialization literature review and other resources.

Literature Review: The Role of Breed in Dog Bite Risk and Prevention
This backgrounder reviews and provides scientific context on dog breeds and their purported tendencies to bite.

Client Brochure: What you should know about dog bite prevention
This informative brochure offers tips on how to avoid being bitten, as well as what to do if you are bitten by a dog. It also addresses what you need to do if your dog bites someone. (Also available in Spanish: Prevención de Mordeduras de Perros)

Client Brochure: What you should know about rabies
This client-ready brochure explains all the basics, including the importance of vaccination against rabies, signs of rabies in animals, what to do if a person or pet is bitten, and much more. (Also available in Spanish: La Rabia)

A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention (PDF)
The American Veterinary Medical Association Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions has produced this report intended to help state and local leaders develop effective dog bite prevention programs in their communities.

Why Breed-specific Legislation Is not the Answer
This article and our other resources about breed-specific legislation desribe why stereotype-based laws are not the answer to dog bite problems.

Bilingual Dog Bite Prevention activity/coloring book

Bilingual Dog Bite Prevention activity/coloring book
Teach children about different ways to avoid dog bites, by educating them on how, or if, they should approach a dog. A creative tool for use all year, including during Dog Bite Prevention week in May.

Related Articles

Read, learn, and feel free to share these articles to educate people about dog bite prevention.

AVMA Podcasts Audio icon

Victoria Stilwell Shares Tips to Stop Dogs From Biting

Preventing Dog Bites: an Interview with Dr. Gregory Hammer

Dog Bite Prevention: Sensible Advice

Handling an Injured Pet

Other Dog Bite and Dog Bite Prevention Resources:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Brief #101: Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008. (PDF)

American Academy of Pediatrics – Healthy Children Radio: Dog Bites