DALLAS, June 27 (UPI) -- An estimated 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and children are the most common victims, a Dallas plastic surgeon says.
Dr. Ron Hoxworth, a plastic surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, says dog bites occur more often than pet owners might realize, and they occur most often in summer.
"It's surprising how many times it occurs, and the majority of dog bites aren't from strays," Hoxworth says in a statement.
Dogs, by nature, are territorial -- especially when eating -- and young children are both unpredictable in their actions and less able to protect themselves.
Children are often bitten in the face, frequently resulting in severe lacerations, infection and permanent scarring, Hoxworth says.
Hoxworth, who has performed numerous dog-bite repairs, recommends:
-- Monitoring your children carefully around dogs, even family pets.
-- Make sure kids avoid getting close to a pet when it is eating.
-- Keep children's immunizations and pet vaccinations up to date.
-- Don't delay treatment if a bite occurs. If severe bleeding results, take your child to a hospital emergency room immediately.