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For the love of your pet: Distract dogs before fighting escalates

By By John Beck
May 17, 2012 at 12:17 a.m.


My two dogs recently got into a fight. They have always played pretty rough, but for some reason it escalated this time to a full out brawl. I didn't know what to do and mistakenly went in and tried to physically break them up myself. I now know that wasn't the best decision. Will you please advise everyone else on what to do in a dog fight so they don't make the same mistake I did? Thank You.

Sorry to hear about your recent doggy battle. Dogs that have been best friends for many years can suddenly break into what appears to be a knock-down-drag-out fight for reasons that we may or may not understand.

Food, toys and attention from humans might be a few things that can spur a fight. It is important to recognize when your pets might be playing too rough or starting to escalate into a fighting situation.

Try to get their attention via a loud yell, hand clap, knock on a wall or door before the fight gets too intense. If this attention getting technique doesn't work, then you can try spraying the dogs with a water hose or pouring some water on their heads. The sudden sensation of getting wet can be very surprising and get them to immediately stop.

You should never try and reach in to break up a dog fight. The dogs are so busy trying to bite one another they will bite you and not even realize what they have done. If your bite wounds require medical attention, you will need to provide proof of rabies vaccination for the dog that bit you.

If you are up to date with the rabies vaccine, then no further action is needed. If your dogs are not up to date on their rabies vaccination, a mandatory quarantine of 10 days is required. You might wonder why your doctor is requesting such information when all you want is treatment for a bite wound. This is a public health issue and the law requires all animal bites be reported in order to protect the general population.

Though rabies is rarely contracted by humans from a domestic animal bite, a slim chance still exists. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, only two of 24 animals tested for rabies in Victoria County in 2011 where positive (both were bats). The Texas Department of State Health Services also states that nine canines tested positive out of the 3,422 dogs tested in the whole state of Texas.

If you have any additional questions concerning dog fights, bites, rabies, etc., please contact my office.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.

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