According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), about 4.5 million dog bites and 400,000 cat bites are reported each year across California and the nation. This is just the reported number; it is likely that the amount is higher than that. Some of the bites could cause just minor injuries, but some could result in a serious wound.

In fact, according to the pediatric group, more than 50 percent of cat bites and between 15 and 20 percent of dog bites become infected. Signs of infection are pus or drainage from the wound, swelling and tenderness around the bite, red streaks coming from the bite or swollen glands that appear above the bite.

Bites and infections are serious business. If you’re a parent or grandparent, here are some tips to help keep the kids in your care safe from animal bites.

  • Teach kids to stay away from wild animals, as well as dead animals. Dead animals can be infested with insects that carry bacteria and other infectious organisms.
  • Don’t leave little ones with an animal unattended.
  • Teach your children not to take an animal’s things – such as food, toys or bones – or to play roughly with it. That includes pulling tails.
  • Instruct kids not to kiss an animal or put their face close to one. Also, they shouldn’t awaken a pet or disturb it while it’s eating.
  • Show kids how to act when an unfamiliar animal approaches. Children shouldn’t run from dogs. Instead, they should face them and back away slowly.
  • Tell older kids how to recognize a dog that could be unsafe. Those signs include a rigid body, a stiff tail and uncontrolled barking.
  • Remind children to always cover or close garbage containers. Small animals are attracted to them and could be dangerous to children.

No matter how well you teach your children about the dangers of animals, kids unfortunately still will be bitten by animals. In many cases, the pet’s owner could be liable for any injuries your children suffer, meaning they could be held responsible for medical bills and other costs your family might face. A California attorney with experience in animal bite cases could evaluate your potential case.