Will my newborn child be safe around my dog?

Your dog is a member of your family. He’s a part of everything you do. You can tell that he’s loving and kind by the way he welcomes home you at the end of the day. But, it would be best if you still were cautious when your dog is around your newborn child. 

All dogs can bite, and their behavior isn’t always predictable. A dog poses enough of a risk to your newborn child that you should never leave the two of them together and unsupervised. 

Your family friend is still an animal

Even though your dog is a cuddly, loving family member, he’s still an animal with animal instincts. When provoked, dogs react like animals. They defend themselves and sometimes attack. 

The big concern is that people don’t necessarily understand what human behaviors might provoke a dog to attack. But, of course, newborn children, toddlers don’t have a clue. Even when a child is old enough to understand the risk, they can’t always prevent a dog from biting. 

Dogs attack for different reasons

The American Veterinary Medical Association Dog Bite Page explains that dogs attack primarily due to a stressful situation. 

  • Protecting their territory
  • Feeling scared or startled
  • Sickness or injury 
  • Feeling threatened
  • Protecting their puppies, toys, or food

Dogs often interpret a child’s behavior as a reason to attack. They hear crying, screaming, and laughter. They feel a child’s playful touch and notice their sudden movements. Any one of these innocent acts can become a reason for a dog to protect themselves or their puppies. 

Dogs also bite when they’re playing or wrestling with children. It might be a playful nip to the dog, but even a playful nip can injure a child.

A newborn child and older children are vulnerable to dog attacks

The AVMA infographic, Dog Bites By The Numbers, provides statistics on dog bites in America. 

  • 85 million dogs live in the USA
  • Dogs bite 4.5 million people each year.
  • Dogs bite children most frequently.
  • Children sustain far more severe injuries.
  • Of those who sustained fatal dog bite injuries, 45.9% were under age 16.

Children ages one to five are the age group that’s most vulnerable to dog attacks. Because of their playfulness, they easily provoke a dog without realizing it. In addition, they can’t read a dog’s body language to determine if they are ready to attack. Also, a child’s small limbs and developing bodies make them physically more easy to wound. 

Supervise your newborn child and your dog

As a child-parent and pet-parent, it’s up to you to control your child’s safety around your dog. You can’t prevent your newborn child from crying or screaming. You also can’t predict how your dog will react if she does. The only thing you can do is control their interactions and monitor them both. Active parental supervision prevents the circumstances from spinning out of control. 

As your child ages, the need for monitoring and supervision doesn’t go away. However, you can eventually educate your children about dealing with dogs and avoiding dog bite incidents. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention Dogs Page provides tips to help keep you and your dog safe and healthy.

Contact Hebron Veterinary Hospital 

To learn more about how pets interact with children, give us a call at (860) 228-4324. We’re also available to schedule a medical appointment, senior care, or well-care visit. Or visit our contact page.