Most children love animals. They often are more than ready to hug, pet and play with nearly any dog they see. However, children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, also are more likely to be bitten by a dog if they hug too tightly or play too rough.  

If your child ends up being one of the four million people bit by a dog this year, you might panic at first. What should you do? Here are 10 steps to take to ensure your child’s safety and recovery: 

  1. Get the child safely away from the dog so the dog can’t attack your child further.

  2. Try to control the bleeding of your child’s wound.

  3. Seek medical attention if your child has a larger wound, a wound to the face or if you can’t control the bleeding.

  4. Clean the wound if it doesn’t need immediate medical attention. Use soap and water or a first aid kit’s moistened towelettes.

  5. Apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and a bandage. Check the bandage to see if the bleeding stops. When checking the bandage, do not remove it. Instead, feel for any moisture or large red spots that appear to be soaking the gauze and apply additional bandages on top of the placed dressing. If bleeding does not stop, seek medical attention right away.

  6. If the dog is unfamiliar to you, seek medical attention and file a police report.

  7. Find the dog’s owner and get their name, address and phone number. If the child’s injuries required medical treatment, let the dog owner know and gather their home insurance company’s name, policy number and contact information.

  8. Document your child’s medical expenses related to the wound, as well as evidence of the attack. Take pictures of your child’s initial wound and recovery and don’t wash their clothes if they have blood on them or were torn in the attack.

  9. Find other witnesses to the attack in case you’ll need them to make a statement for an insurance claim.

  10. Contact a personal injury attorney to ensure any insurance settlement is fair and completely covers the costs of your child’s injury treatment. Insurance companies often give lowball settlements that an attorney can help you avoid. 

No one wants to see their child viciously attacked by a dog. Once your child is old enough, teach them how to best interact with animals. Yet be prepared in case an unexpected accident happens.