THE North-East has some of the country's highest hospital admission rates for dog bites, according to a survey.
Figures released by healthcare data source the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed dog bites were more of a problem in deprived areas.
Some poorer areas saw three times more hospital admissions from dog bites than more affluent parts.
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In the 12 months to January this year, the rate for hospital admissions for dog bites for people living in the most deprived areas was 24.1 per 100,000 - 1,240 admissions.
There were just 428 admissions in the least deprived areas, or 8.1 per 100,000 people.
Durham, Darlington and Teesside - with 269 cases, or almost 23 admissions per 100,000 - had the second highest rate of admissions behind Merseyside.
There was also an increase in hospital admissions caused by dogs and other animals, including horses, foxes and cats.
Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear recorded 388 dog-bite admissions – 20.1 per 100,000 - and 151 resulting from other animals.
North Yorkshire’s figures were merged with Humberside, with a total of 273 dog-bite admissions – 16.4 per 100,000 – and 139 from other animals.
The 12 months to January saw a total of 9,710 hospital admissions as a result of dog bites, an increase of seven per cent on the previous year.
Admissions were highest during the summer, with young children the most affected age group.
HSCIC chairman Kingsley Manning said: “Today’s report shows hospital admissions for bites and strikes by dogs are three times as high in the most deprived areas of England as in the least deprived areas.
“As we head towards the summer, when admission rates for dog bites are at their highest, these trends may be worth further study by healthcare organisations and public sector bodies.”
Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko added: “These incidents, whether it be a child falling over the family pet and injuring themselves, or a child being nipped by an unfamiliar dog, are alarming and are particularly high in the North-East, but they are also largely avoidable with the right precautions.
“Dogs are a huge part of our lives in Britain and children are naturally curious and excited around them, so it is crucial that they are taught from an early age how best to interact with them.”