Cat and Dog Bites

Pets can be a good source of companionship to a child. If you have a pet, let your child be actively involved in its care. Even young children can learn responsibility for a pet and how to treat animals with love and respect. Almost all children love to handle and play with a puppy or a kitten. However, sometimes young children do not seem to be able to tell the difference between the cute little puppy you have at home, and the large stray dog that walks into your yard or the playground. This could mean trouble.

In the U.S.A., one report showed that there were 157 deaths due to dog bites from 1979 to 1988; 70% of these deaths were children under ten years of age.

Dog bites are a common injury to children; quite often it is the family’s dog or a dog that the child is familiar with that does the damage. Strange dogs have also bitten children when a child walked up to pat the dog. All too often when a child is attacked by a dog, it is in the facial area. Severe damage can be done in a split second. You must supervise small children around any dog.


In Canada between April 1990 and April 1992, The Children’s Hospital Injury Research and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) reported 1,022 records of injuries from dog bites in children up to 19 years of age (Edmonton Board of Health, Childhood Injury Control Newsletter 1.1, 1989).

A large old dog, known in the neighborhood as a friendly dog, inexplicably bit a child at a school bus stop. This was very surprising to everybody because the dog had always been so friendly. The dog was put down and an autopsy was performed to determine if there was a reason why the dog turned on and bit the child. The autopsy had a surprising result. The skin of the dog had hundreds of needles stuck in it. Apparently children had been sticking needles into the dog for a period of time.


From a very early age children should be instructed on how to handle themselves around dogs and cats. Here is some information you should teach your children:


Copyright 1995 Safety Health Publishing Inc.

Martin Lesperance is a fire fighter / paramedic and best selling author of the book "Kids for Keeps: Preventing Injuries to Children". Martin speaks across North America on the topic of injury prevention. His talks are humorous, but still have a strong underlying safety message. For more information, call him at (403) 225 – 2011 or visit his website at