There is an old saying that the “dog days” of August, or the hottest days of the year, are when dogs tend to become more aggressive. There is no scientific evidence that heat makes dogs aggressive, but there is a good reason this “old wive’s tale” is so prevalent. Hot weather does have an impact on dog bite numbers, but not because dogs themselves become more aggressive in the heat. Rather, secondary factors tied to the dog’s behavior increase during warm weather, giving the appearance of a rise in aggression.
The Three Factors In Increased Dog Bites In Sacramento
There are three major factors that contribute to the “dog bite in hot weather” phenomenon. These three factors have little to do with dogs themselves but did give rise to the popular “dog days” myths. These include:
- Rabies outbreaks linked to warm weather.
The jury is still out on whether warm weather is a causal factor in rabies outbreaks, but there is no denying that our grandparents believed it was. In fact, “dog days” was originally a reference to the fact that dogs were believed to contract rabies in much greater numbers during what was, for most places, the hottest month of the year. While rabies can be transmitted in any season, this belief may have sprung up because bats, which are carriers of the disease, were more visible and active in warm weather. Of course, rabies results in aggressive behavior, although being bitten by a rabid dog is highly unlikely in modern society. However, if you see a dog acting strangely or being aggressive with no warning, it is important to report this behavior to authorities immediately.
- Large numbers of people out of doors.
During the warmer months, people are more likely to be engaged in outdoor activities. The fact is that most dog bites happen outdoors, either on the property of the owner or when the dog escapes its confines and roams around the neighborhood. Since almost all dog bites happen outside, it is easy to see that the increased number of people out of doors provides more chances for bites to occur. Additionally, the clothing that people are wearing in warm weather may have an impact on the number of reported dog bites. A bite that might not have required medical treatment in cold weather when a person was wearing heavy jeans or a coat may well require a trip to the emergency room when the same person is wearing shorts or a light t-shirt.
- Children out of school.
Most likely the biggest factor in increased dog bites in warmer weather is the fact that children tend to be out of school in the summer and are more likely to be exposed to dog bite risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, out of 4.5 million people bitten by dogs each year, about half are children. Children are much more likely to be taken to the emergency room after a dog bite than adults, as well, so the reporting of dog bite victims under 14 years of age is probably much higher than the rate for adults. About 450,000 children are taken to emergency rooms each year and treated for dog bite injuries. Clearly, children are at higher risk of dog bites when they spend the majority of their time outdoors and playing with other children around the neighborhood rather than safe in their own homes.
How Can I Prevent Dog Bites?
The best way to prevent dog bites is to stay away from dogs you do not know and never approach a strange dog, even if it seems friendly. Teach your children to ask permission before petting a dog, even if they know the dog’s owner. Finally, learn to read the body language of aggressive dogs and remove yourself and your family if a dog seems to be signaling fear or anger.
However, even your best preventative measures may not be enough to prevent a dog bite. If you are bitten, it is very important to seek medical attention and to report the bite in order to prevent others from suffering the same problem.
If you have suffered a dog bite in Sacramento, you may be entitled to payment of damages such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and other costs. Contact a personal injury attorney to learn more.
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