National Dog Bite Prevention Week Emphasizes That Education Is Key to Preventing Bites

Contact: Dawn Noufer, Communications Associate
Texas Veterinary Medical Association8104 Exchange Drive
Austin, Texas 78754
Phone: 512/452-4224
Fax: 512/452-6633


National Dog Bite Prevention Week Emphasizes That Education Is Key to Preventing Bites

AUSTIN—National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs from May 18-24, serves as an annual reminder that education and awareness are the keys to preventing many, if not most, dog bites. The Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) encourages pet owners and the public to familiarize themselves with the signs that indicate a dog may potentially bite.

There are an estimated 4.5 million dog bites reported each year. Many of these could be prevented by learning how a dog communicates distress or aggression through its behavior and body language. Signs to watch for include a dog lifting its lip, panting or yawning inappropriately, cowering, holding its breath, flattening its ears to its head, growling and snapping.

“Many dogs will give a warning or several warnings that they are uncomfortable and a person needs to back off,” said former TVMA president Lori Teller, DVM, DABVP, who practices at Meyerland Animal Clinic in Houston, Texas. “People often miss these signs and think a dog bite occurred out of the blue.”

In the majority of dog bite cases, children are the victims. It is important for parents to learn canine behavioral cues and teach their children the signs that a dog is uncomfortable and to never approach strange dogs. However, it’s not only strange dogs that bite. Even the most gentle dog can bite its own family member if it’s feeling frightened, distressed or is in pain. Parents should supervise children’s interactions with dogs and intervene if the dog appears to be avoiding the child or is displaying distressed behavior cues.

Pet owners also play a large role in dog bite prevention. “Puppies need to be socialized to people of all ages, from crying babies to excitable children to teens listening to loud music to adults and senior citizens,” said Dr. Teller. “And certainly, if your dog, whether a puppy or an adult, exhibits signs that he or she may bite someone, it’s imperative that you seek veterinary help immediately to address the problem.”

It is important to know that any dog, even those that typically do not show signs of aggressive behavior, can bite if in a situation that makes it uncomfortable, frightened or angry. We don’t always know what will cause dogs to bite, so it is important to keenly interpret the cues that dogs are communicating. For more information on dog bite prevention, visit

About The Texas Veterinary Medical Association

Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit