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Visiting during the holidays? Beware the dog

With the holidays upon us, you might be planning a trip to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with extended family or friends at their California home. They are undoubtedly excited you're coming to spend some time with them, whether you're traveling a distance or just going crosstown.

Their dog just might not be happy to see you.

The holidays aren't the happiest time of the year for dogs. More food, more festivities and more commotion are all around. There are children invading the dog's normally calm environment, and the pups are prone to becoming more agitated.

In short, one expert on dog bites said, "Dogs don't know it's Thanksgiving or Christmas. They don't know who is there – or why. And, meanwhile, the adults are paying less attention to the kids."

The dogs become territorial and get anxious around new people. And that translates into more dog bites and more risk of serious injuries to both adults and children.

Dog owners should be aware of the signs their dogs are overwhelmed. They tuck their tales between their legs, they pin back their ears and they crouch. Once that happens, owners should put their dogs in a safe place – such as a bedroom – with their beds and surrounded by their toys and other things that will calm them.

Parents also should make sure their kids don't get near the dog's toys or food bowls, disturb a sleeping dog or try to hug or touch the pups.

Should a dog bite, the Cleveland Clinic recommends treating the wound right away to reduce the chance of infection, then seek medical attention right away. Here's what to do immediately:

  1. Press gently on the wound. That causes bleeding which will help to get out some of the bacteria.
  2. Wash the bite wound with a mild soap and water.
  3. Use a clean cloth to slow down the bleeding.
  4. Apply antibiotic cream.
  5. Put a sterile bandage on the wound and keep it there until you see the doctor.
  6. Be on the lookout for infection. The signs include swelling, redness, pain and fever.

The holidays are supposed to be fun and carefree. But should a dog bite cause an injury, seek medical help. If the injuries are extensive, you or your child might require prolonged medical treatment. In that case, you might want to contact a California attorney who can help you try to recoup your expenses.

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