The CDC states that 4.6 million people are bitten by a dog each year in the United States and roughly 20 percent of those dog bites become infected. A dog bite is a serious injury that can require multiple surgeries, months of painful treatments, and cause permanent damage. For dog bite injury victims, the physical, emotional, and financial damages can be significant. You may not be able to avoid a dog bite; however, knowing the warning signs of an imminent dog attack and what to do if you are bitten by a dog can help.

How Do You Know A Dog Is Ready To Attack?

You can never be absolutely sure when a dog may attack and bite you. A dog that has never been aggressive and has never bitten anyone before can bite you for no apparent reason, especially if the dog is a strange animal that you have never met before. The Humane Society has a list of warning signs that may be an indication that a dog is about to attack.

Warning signs a dog may be about to bite you include:

  • The dog’s head and/or ears are pulled back;
  • The dog is showing its teeth and/or growling;
  • A tensed body and furrowed brow;
  • Intense stare or the dog’s eyes are rolled back so that the whites of the eyes are visible;
  • A flicking tongue and/or yawning;
  • The dog has a stiff tail; or,
  • The dog is backing away.

It is possible that the dog will show no signs whatsoever before attacking; therefore, you should always exercise extreme caution around an animal that you do not know. Unfortunately, even dogs that you are familiar with can bite. If this happens, seek immediate medical attention to prevent the injury from becoming worse and report the dog attack to the proper authorities and the dog’s owner, if known.

What Can I Do To Avoid A Dog Bite?

There are things you can do yourself to avoid being bitten by a dog. For example, never approach a mother and her pups. A mother dog, especially if this is her first time as a mother, can be overprotective of her pups even with people she knows. Other actions that could cause a dog to attack include but are not limited to:

  • Approaching a dog that is eating;
  • Petting a dog that is confined in a fence or other area;
  • Sudden movements;
  • Screaming or yelling at a dog;
  • Disturbing a sleeping dog; and,
  • Making a sudden movement toward the dog’s owner.

If a dog appears that it is about to attack, do not make eye contact with the dog. Keep your head down but watch the dog without making eye contact. Slowly back away with your hands at your side and resist the urge to run, make sudden movements, or scream. If the dog does lunge toward you, put anything you can between you and the dog such as a pocket book, bag, book, or other object. Give the dog something other than your skin to bite. If the dog does knock you down, cover your head and ears with your hands and curl into a ball. Fighting back is natural; however, this may only provoke the dog to become more aggressive.

For more information about preventing dog bites and what to do in the event of a dog bite, read “Preventing Dog Bites” from the Centers of Disease Control.

Have You Been Bitten By A Dog?

Under California’s dog bite laws, a dog does not need to be designated as a vicious or dangerous dog for a dog bite victim to recover damages from the dog’s owner. Even if this is the dog’s first incident, the dog bite victim may still recover damages from the dog’s owner.

If you have been bitten by a dog in Fresno, CA or the surrounding Central California Valley area, call the dog bite attorneys of Torem & Associates at 1-800-954-4444. We offer a free consultation to potential clients so you can get the advice you need without worrying about paying for legal advice. You may also chat with a representative online or use our convenient online contact form to schedule your free consultation.