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Animal Injuries

Kidsafe WA has recently released the Childhood Injury Bulletin: Animal-related Injuries. This shows an average of 600 children presenting to the Perth Children’s Hospital Emergency Department for an animal-related injury each year.

Although there are numerous benefits of pet, as household pet ownership continues to grow so too does the incidence of domestic animal-related injuries. Many people believe that wild animals are more likely to bite or inflict injury on their child, however most animal bites to children are caused by their own pets or a familiar animal. Aside from pets, non-domesticated animal such as insects, spiders and snakes have also been known to cause injury. Certain activities and environments can also increase a child’s risk of animal-related injuries. This can include equestrian activities, ocean and farm based activities.

While all children can be at risk of injury from an animal, children under five are often the most vulnerable. There a number of factors that leave young children exposed which includes; their small size; instability and developing balance; inquisitive nature and inability to assess risks; developing awareness of self such as their pressure of touch and loudness of voice; and lack of knowledge of how to behave around animals.

The following simple steps can help decrease the risk of animal-related injuries to children:

  • When choosing a pet, think about your family’s lifestyle, level of activity, space and time available
  • Obedience training is a vital part of responsible pet ownership
  • Always actively supervise children around pets and other animals
  • Educate your children to interact with pets in a friendly manner and teach them to not disturb pets when they are eating, sleeping or caring for young
  • Teach children not to engage or interact with animals that are unknown to them. Always ask the owner’s permission before petting and remember any dog can bite if it feels threatened
  • If horse riding, match children to a horse suitable to their age. Ensure equipment is in good condition and that helmets and boots are always worn
  • Keep gardens well maintained to eliminate hiding places for insects, spiders and reptiles
  • When playing outside, enclosed shoes, pants and long sleeved clothing will assist in protecting children from insect bites
  • Learn how to treat bites and stings of animals that live in areas that you and your family frequently visit.

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