This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on Pet360.com as Lindsey Vonn Dog Bite Trauma Teaches Dog Bite Prevention Lessons
Earlier this month, world champion and Olympic gold medal winning American skier Lindsey Vonn incurred a traumatic dog bite injury inflicted by the jaws of her own canine companions, according to The Daily Mail. Vonn was trying to break up a fight over a Frisbee between her two mixed breed dogs, Bear and Leo.
The dog bite forced Vonn to seek emergency treatment. Vonn took to her Instagram and Twitter accounts to share a graphic video of her injury and to thank Dr. Randy Viola, the US ski team physician who addressed her wounds. She also gave an amusing recount of the incident in stating, “so, the story is that my dogs got rowdy fighting over a dang Frisbee and I tried to break it up but got bit instead. Fun weekend.”
She also made light of the situation by taking a playful jab at The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, who notoriously injured his hand twice in the past few months. Vonn tweeted, “I just decided to do Jimmy Fallon for a belated Halloween outfit.” Fallon responded to Vonn’s banter on Twitter by staying “Oh no! I was faking mine. You should’ve called me first! #quickrecovery.”
Fortunately, Vonn healed well and had her sutures removed on Thanksgiving Day.
Vonn is just one of many individuals that suffer mild to severe trauma from dog bites. Here are some statistics about dog bites according to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
- Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
- Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
- Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
- Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
- Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
There’s even a National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which aims to educate the public about safety and preventative measures so they don’t become victims. I have a similar goal of promoting responsible dog ownership and pet safety, so I’ve come up with my top dog bite prevention tips.
Properly Socialize and Train Your Pooch
Acclimate your dog to the presence of other canines and humans through consistent and positive socialization. Start training from a positive perspective as soon as you take on the responsibility of caretaking for your pooch regardless of if he’s a puppy, adult or senior when he becomes part of your family.
One to two word basic commands like, “sit,” “stay,” “drop,” “leave it,” “come” and others help strengthen the canine-human bond and increase the likelihood your pooch will respond favorably to interactions with other people.
If training a dog is new to you, you’re still developing confidence in your technique or if your message just isn’t coming authoritatively enough to effectively train your canine, then seek guidance from a trainer, veterinarian or veterinary behavior specialist (one can be found via the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists).
Guide Your Dog in Public Places Using a Flat Lead
Always keep your dog on a short leash in public spaces. Avoid using an extendable lead, which doesn’t permit the same degree of control as a non-extending leash, which limits your dog’s movement only in a specific area dictated by you.
A flat lead of six feet or less should be used to restrict movement. Dogs with too much freedom, even while on-leash, are more prone to trauma and negative interactions with other animals, including wildlife.
Be in constant control of your dog’s movements and serve as the leader who directs his movements into new spaces, guides the way across the street (after releasing from a “sit, stay”), and determines the appropriate locations for elimination (urination and defecation).
Be Cautious of Potential Pooch Foes
There are many instances when your companion canine may meet a new dog, including at daycare, the park or on walks around your neighborhood. Minimizing interactions with animals with whom our dog is not familiar can reduce the potential a bite, scratch, or other trauma will occur.
Interacting with unfamiliar dogs, cats or other animals also increases the chance for exposure to viral diseases (like distemper and parvovirus) and bacterial diseases (like bordetella) affecting the eyes, mouth, nose and respiratory tract. Plus, licking or sniffing on or around the anus of another dog can transmit parasites (like giardia or whipworm) or pathogenic bacteria (like E. coli or salmonella) via “fecal-oral transmission.”
Avoid Locations that May Cause Stress or Be Harmful
Some canines are behaviorally challenged due to lack of training or socialization, so consider skipping the park and other places dogs congregate. At such sites, canine stress levels are high and good behaviors are often disregarded for more primordial patterns of aggression, fear, and uncertainty. Additionally, dogs often exhibit a reduced capacity to pay attention to their owner’s commands.
Recognize the Financial Burden of Bite Wound Treatment
You may be thinking, “my pooch would never get into a fight with another dog.” I’ve heard my clients state such things while seeking treatment for their dog’s bite wounds or paying for the care of the trauma their dog inflicted on another.The costs of medically addressing dog bite injuries on an emergency basis varies from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending damage received or inflicted. The more serious the dog bite, the more expensive the veterinary bill.
Be a proactive owner by taking preventative measures to ensure your pooch will not be the instigator or recipient of a dog bite.
I’m glad to hear that Vonn has recovered from her dog bite trauma. I’m surprised that Leo and Bear haven’t issued a formal apology to their master on their Instagram Page. Perhaps we’ll soon see such a post.
Have you or a canine or feline companion every incurred dog bite? If so, how did you go about treating it and what steps are you taking to prevent future bites?
Thank you for reading this article. Your constructive comments are welcome (although I may not respond).