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Angry German Shepherd with a metal prong collar in mid-bark

What to Do if Your Dog Bit or is Bitten By Another Dog in Toronto

No pet parent would ever wish for their pet to be injured, hurt, or in pain, but unfortunately it can happen.

No pet parent would ever want to see their dog bite or have their dog bitten by another dog. 

While we can do our outmost best to prevent these situations from arising (i.e. learning to recognize the signs of a fearful or aggressive dog, choosing less highly trafficked area, enrolling in dog obedience classes, etc.), the unexpected can still happen. 

Today's post was created to help point readers to the right resources if your dog has bit or is bitten by another dog in Toronto. 

Note: This post was created after our readers informed us of last week's incident at a local pet store in the Trinity Bellwood neighbourhood. Upon entering the local pet store, a 4-month-old puppy was severely bitten in the ear by an off-leash dog inside the store.  According to reports after the incident, the store maintains an on-leash policy but was off-leash dog while allegedly trying on a new harness when the puppy and the owner entered the store. 

Two dogs engaging in play fight. The wet brown dog (left) has it

How to Break Up a Dog Bite / Fight Safely

Even if we stay alert for the early warning signs of a potential bite, unexpected situations can happen. Here are some guidelines on what you can do if you see your dog getting bit or biting another dog:

  1. Resist the urge to jump in, grab your dog, or stick your hands near their mouths. In the heat of the moment it’s possible for your dog to not recognize you and you could end up getting seriously injured by either dog by stepping in. Instead, focus distracting the dogs to de-escalate the fight

  2. Avoid yelling or shouting at the dogs or at other people. This can further agitate the animals and owners making it more difficult to de-escalate the fight quickly

  3. Make a Lot of Unexpected Loud Noises. Clapping, air horns, or car horns may be jarring enough for the dogs to snap out of a fight

  4. Use Physical Objects Strategically. Throwing heavy blankets so the dogs can no longer see each other, or using a chair to physically separate the dogs may provide enough distraction to break the dogs apart

  5. Physically separate the dogs as a last resort. This should be the absolute last resort as it puts you at the most risk. If there are other people to help you, multiple vet blogs and even the AKC, recommend using the wheelbarrow method. One person is assigned to each dog. Each person will approach their assigned dog from behind and will grab and lift the hind legs of the dog so the dogs are balancing on their front legs like a wheelbarrow. The dogs are then walked backwards, away from each other and into separate areas. Keep the wheelbarrow position and keep moving to prevent your dog from turning its back and biting you until the dog is calm.

Angry German Shepherd with a metal prong collar in mid-bark

What To Do if Your Dog Bit or is Bitten by a Dog in Toronto

If your pet is unfortunately bitten or has bitten another dog in Toronto, remember to refer to the City of Toronto's Dogs in the City guide. 

We've included some of the key parts below for your reference.

If your pet was bitten or attacked by a dog

  1. Get as much information from the other owner (if available) as possible

  2. Take photos of the surrounding incident , your dog's injury, the other dog, the owner, etc. 

  3. Get contact information from other witnesses (if possible) to help report the incident

    Take photos of the incident and injury
  4. Report the incident to Toronto Animal Services (3-1-1)

  5. See a veterinarian as soon as possible - even if it might not look like there is an injury, an open wound from a dog bite on thick fur can be easily missed and get infected. Your veterinarian can also best determine if additional vaccinations or antibiotics are needed

If you are the owner of a dog that has bitten

  • Leash your dog and isolate from causing further threats
  • Provide your contact information to the owner of the pet who was bitten
  • Make clear, concise notes of the incident in your own handwriting
  • If the person's skin has been broken, isolate your dog until contacted by Toronto Public Health
  • If necessary, consult an expert about your dog's behaviour

If your pet has been bitten or attacked by a dog, report the bite or attack to Toronto Animal Services (call 311) as soon as possible.

Emergency Veterinarian Clinics in Toronto

Here are some 24h veterinary clinics around Toronto if you require immediate veterinarian assistance.

  1. Central Toronto Veterinary Referral Clinic - 1051 Eglinton Ave. W. , Toronto, Ontario
  2. Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital - 21 Rolark Ave, Scarborough, Ontario
  3. Veterinary Emergency Clinic | VEC - 920 Yonge St. Suite 117 - Toronto, Ontario. Note: Currently the clinic is experiencing high volume so please call 416-920-2002 in advance of coming in to the clinic.

What the city will do when a dog bite is reported

To learn more about what happens after you report a dog bit, you can refer to the City of Toronto's post: Dog Bites or Attacks: What the City Will Do.

Additional Helpful Reading

Have any suggestions you'd like to share with other readers - have other helpful resources to share too? Then be sure to write a comment below to let everyone know!

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