Dog bite prevention: an assessment of child knowledge

J Pediatr. 2012 Feb;160(2):337-341.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.07.016. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


Objectives: To determine what children know about preventing dog bites and to identify parental desires for dog bite prevention education.

Study design: This cross-sectional study sampled 5- to 15-year-olds and their parents/guardians presenting to a pediatric emergency department with nonurgent complaints or dog bites. The parent/guardian-child pairs completed surveys and knowledge-based simulated scenario tests developed on the basis of American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dog bite prevention recommendations. Regression analyses modeled knowledge test scores and probability of passing; a passing score was ≥11 of 14 questions.

Results: Of 300 parent/guardian-child pairs, 43% of children failed the knowledge test. Older children had higher odds of passing the knowledge test than younger children, as did children with white parents vs those with nonwhite parents. No associations were found between knowledge scores and other sociodemographic or experiential factors. More than 70% of children had never received dog bite prevention education, although 88% of parents desired it.

Conclusions: Dog bites are preventable injures that disproportionately affect children. Dog bite prevention knowledge in our sample was poor, particularly among younger children and children with nonwhite parents. Formal dog bite prevention education is warranted and welcomed by a majority of parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic*
  • Bites and Stings / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / education*
  • Pediatrics