When your fur baby bites
A lot of us consider them as part of the family, treating them as if they are our own children.
We lavish them with utmost love and attention, provide them with more necessities than they will ever need and make sure that they are comfortable and well cared for. Consequently, we mean the world to them and they commit to us their loyalty and affection.
We have to admit, however, that they can commit mistakes, too, with some causing harm or pain to humans. When provoked or when they find themselves in a stressful situation, man’s best friend may bite.
What do you do if your four-legged, furry baby bites you?
“Immediately wash the area with soap and flowing water. Best to seek consult to the nearest animal bite center in the area,” advised Dr. Pauleen Faustino, department head of Medicard Philippines Inc.’s Onsite Clinic Management and Health Promotion.
It is important to note, however, that dogs bite as a reaction to something. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “dogs can bite because they are scared or have been startled. They can bite because they feel threatened. They can bite to protect something that is valuable to them, like their puppies, their food or a toy.”
One thing that people are most terrified of after being bitten by a dog is the risk of being infected with rabies.
“Watch out for initial symptoms are similar to flu—headache, fever plus pain on the wound site. Later, infected persons can manifest with vomiting, agitation and hyperactivity,” explained Dr. Faustino.
According to the Department of Health, rabies is “100 percent fatal though 100 percent preventable.” Considered a neglected disease, it is seen as a significant public health problem because, “it is one of the most acutely fatal infections and it is responsible for the death of 200 to 300 Filipinos annually.”
Our pets are not born with rabies. The virus is transmitted to dogs when they are bitten by a feral or stray animal. Responsible pet ownership is one way to prevent humans from contacting rabies. It is important for puppies and kittens to get vaccinated for rabies when they reach 3 to 6 months of age and get annual booster shots in the years that will follow.
As pet owners, help in preventing unnecessary dog bites and the risk of rabies by not letting your pet dogs out nor allowing them to roam the streets without your supervision. Make sure that both your house’s door and gate lock systems are working well and can’t be easily unlatched. You don’t want your dogs getting out of the house without your knowledge.
Bathe your fur babies regularly, feed them proper food and keep their surroundings—and yours, too—clean. Keep your garbage bins covered so that your pets won’t be able to rummage through the trash. If you keep your pet dogs in cages, make sure to clean these of urine and poop every single day. Disinfect their cage, bedding and toys at least once a week.
Those who are not pet parents should be well informed, too. Here are things to remember to avoid being bitten by dogs. Yes, they are adorable and they look like they could always use a hug but that does not mean you should just go ahead and pet any dog that you’ll come across. Before reaching to pet someone’s dog, always ask the human first if it is alright to do so. If the human gives his/her permission, allow the dog to see and sniff you first so they will not get startled when you pet them.
When approached by an unfamiliar dog, don’t run or panic or make loud noises. This will only agitate the animal more and drive it to go after you. If you come across a stray dog, keep your cool and remain motionless. If you must move, just keep walking at a normal pace.
Health maintenance organization Medicard Philippines Inc. has free-standing clinics all over the metro and in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Clark, Rizal and Cebu that are ready to serve its members—and even nonmembers—in the event of emergencies such as dog bites. All doctors are board-certified while nurses and clinic staff are well-trained, giving patients an assurance that they are under expert care.
Sources: doh.gov.ph; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov; World Health Organization, who.int; and American Veterinary Medical Association, avma.org
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