The Carolinas are among the top states for dog-bite injuries, State Farm says

The Carolinas are two of the top states in the nation for dog bites, according to State Farm insurance.

There are about 89.7 million dogs living in U.S. homes, and while most dogs will never bite, it's important to remember that any dog can bite, regardless of breed or type, according to State Farm.

In 2017, State Farm paid $132 million in 3,600 dog-related injury claims.

North Carolina accounted for 85 of those claims, resulting in $1.8 million in payments in 2017 — about 2.4 percent of all dog-bite injuries in the country that year. North Carolina came in at No. 14 in the country for dog-related injuries.

South Carolina ranked No. 21 with 62 claims and $1.7 million paid in 2017.

The top 10 states were:

1. California: 488 claims, $18.7 million

2. Illinois: 318 claims, $12.6 million

3. Ohio: 226 claims, $5 million

4. Pennsylvania: 202 claims, $4.8 million

5. Texas: 175 claims, $6 million

6. Michigan: 153 claims, $6 million

7. Minnesota: 145 claims, $3.9 million

8. New York: 137 claims, $6.3 million

9. Indiana: 124 claims, $4.6 million

10. Georgia: 114 claims, $6.1 million

National Dog Bite Prevention week is April 8-14.

“Educating the general public about dog bite prevention is more vital than ever,” dog trainer Victoria Stilwell said. “As a dog behavior expert, I support the need to raise awareness and stop these incidents from occurring.”

Most dog bites can be prevented by responsible pet ownership and education about how to safely interact with dogs.

Stilwell recommends the following tips:

Learn canine body language. Too often people misunderstand or miss signals that a dog is uncomfortable. For example, a dog that yawns might not necessarily be tired. Yawning can also be a sign of stress.

▪ Give dogs space. Dogs can feel threatened when strange people touch them, so take pressure off by giving them the choice to come into your space first to say "hello."

▪ Be humane. Dogs that are raised and trained humanely are more confident and less likely to bite than dogs that are trained using punitive methods or items designed to intimidate and cause pain, such as choke and prong collars, according to Stilwell.

Children make up more than 50 percent of all dog bite victims, according to State Farm. The elderly and mail carriers are also high on the list of frequent dog-bite victims.

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