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Don't end Thanksgiving with a dog bite injury

Heading to a relative's house for Thanksgiving is ultimately rewarding for a lot of people -- but for family pets, the holiday can turn into a stressful nightmare. The stress and excitement can easily overwhelm family pets. Cats are likely to hide, but an unrestrained dog might actually attack.

Even if you've been around a dog dozens of times before, you aren't necessarily safe from attack if the animal is under stress, so take these steps to protect yourself:

Ask your relative to put the dog in another room while people come and go

This isn't an unreasonable request, and it protects the dog as much as it does the humans. The owner may simply not have thought about it before. Being put in a safe space, like its owner's bedroom, can help a stressed-out dog calm down.

Don't feed the dog any scraps before, during or after dinner

A dog with food aggression absolutely will bite the hand that's feeding it, so don't make this mistake. You could be risking a serious injury on your hand if you don't know the "right" way to feed this particular dog.

Pay attention to the dog's warning signs

If the dog is barking or growling, don't ignore it. The dog is signaling its owner a warning, for whatever reason. The smart move is to simply freeze until your relative reassures the dog and removes it to another room.

Finally, keep children away from the dog

No matter how small or how nice, a dog can still inflict a serious bite on a baby or child. Since the kids are often closer to the dog in the first place, facial injuries are common. Make sure your children know that there's a "No playing with the dog" rule being enforced.

It's estimated that 81% of bites are minor -- but any bite that breaks the skin needs treatment. If you or your child are injured over Thanksgiving by a relative's dog, find out your legal options today.

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