Health Alert: Dog bites on the rise in San Diego County - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Health Alert: Dog bites on the rise in San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The number of dog bites among children are on the rise in San Diego County.

Doctors at Rady Children's Hospital said more than 400 kids were hurt in 2016.

The San Diego Humane Society has teamed up with Rady Children's Hospital to remind parents that while dogs are beloved family pets, they are still animals and have an intolerance level when it comes to children.

"Any dog can bite - even nice dogs. We see every breed imaginable. That is what is shocking to parents. They say 'oh I have a retriever. I have a Labrador, so we are safe,'" said Kay More, Rady Children's Hospital RN.

According to Moore, there has been an overall increase in dog bite cases jumping from 337 bites in 2010 to more than 450 in 2016.

Doctor Thomas Vechhione is a plastic surgeon who has treated many severe cases, when dogs actually latch on to the skin. Surgeries can be hours-long, costly and in some cases, done over several years.

To avoid dog bites, parents should teach kids to read a pet's body language, according to the San Diego Humane Society. Kids should only approach a dog with their parent's permission and the pet owners permission as well.

The San Diego Humane Society said knowing the warning signs (yawning, licking their lips, moving away, hiding behind their owner, avoiding eye contact, log hanging tail, a stiff wagging tail, stiff body) that a dog is uncomfortable is key. In some cases the safest thing to do is walk away.

As for why there's been a steady increase in dog bits, experts said no specific reason has been identified - which is why they are trying to be proactive in alerting parents about the risks.

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