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March 1982

Dog Bites: A Neglected Problem in Accident Prevention

Author Affiliations

From the School of Nursing (Ms Lauer) and the Department of Pediatrics (Drs White and Lauer), University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver.

Am J Dis Child. 1982;136(3):202-204. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1982.03970390016003

• Dog bites are a common but neglected pediatric problem. To clarify the epidemiology of dog bites and to learn if parents would welcome counseling aimed at preventing bites, 455 families (960 children) in a Denver pediatric practice were surveyed. One hundred ninety-four children (20.2%) had been bitten at least once, with the majority of bites occurring before the child was aged 5 years. Forty-three percent of the bites prompted a visit to a physician and 16.5% received sutures. German shepherds were responsible for 17% of the incidents, more than expected relative to their popularity as pets. The dogs usually were owned by a neighbor (40.2%) or the victim's family (31%). Approximately half of the bites were believed to be unprovoked. Seventy-seven percent of the parents believed that dog bite prevention warranted discussion with their physician. Dog bites are an important pediatric problem, and parents should be counseled accordingly during well-child visits.

(Am J Dis Child 1982;136:202-204)