MONDAY, July 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Kids love dogs -- dressing them up, tugging on them, kissing them, and even riding them like a horse. But sometimes, things can end badly, a pediatricians' group says.
That's probably why children account for more than half of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical care for dog bites annually.
Children are much more likely than adults to suffer serious injuries when bitten by a dog, and children are most likely to suffer bites from familiar dogs, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The group offered the following dog-bite prevention tips.
Never leave a small child and a dog alone together. And that advice holds true even if it's the family dog, a dog that you know, or a dog that you have been assured is well-behaved. Any dog can bite.
Don't let your child play aggressive games with a dog, such as tug-of-war or wrestling. Teach children to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any dog. Let a dog sniff you or your child before petting, and stay away from the face or tail. Pet the dog gently, and avoid eye contact, particularly at first.
Instruct children to move calmly and slowly around dogs, and to never bother a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
Tell children that if a dog behaves in a threatening manner -- such as growling and barking -- to remain calm, avoid eye contact with the dog, and back away slowly until the dog loses interest and leaves.
Teach children that if they're knocked over by a dog, they should curl up in a ball and protect their eyes and face with arms and fists.
If your child is bitten by a dog, ask for proof of rabies vaccination from the owner, get the owner's name and contact information, and ask for the name and telephone number of a veterinarian who is familiar with the dog's vaccination records and history.
Immediately wash out the wound with soap and water. Call your pediatrician because the bite could require antibiotics, a tetanus shot and possibly rabies shots. The doctor can also help you report the incident to the police, the pediatricians said.
If your child has severe injuries, call 911 or take the child to an emergency room.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on dog and cat bites.