Pets can be central components of any family. And though we all want our pets and kids to exist in perfect harmony, that isn’t always possible without training and education. Young children can sometimes feel intimidated or unsafe around even the most docile household pets and vice versa. This is why it’s important for parents to understand the responsibilities required of them while successfully trying to incorporate either a new child or pet into their household.
The first thing to consider is the personal safety of your kids. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids between the ages of five and nine are bitten by animals more than any other age group. Although most animals are friendly, some can become potentially dangerous if they feel threatened or territorial. A child may be at risk of injury if he or she is unknowingly teasing, hurting or playing too roughly with a pet.
Additionally, parents should be aware of potential illnesses from animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, newborns and children under five years old are more likely than most people to get diseases from animals. With that in mind, parents should be cognizant of certain health considerations and recommendations when it comes to kids and pets. Parents should try to keep kids from kissing pets and putting their hands or other objects into their mouths after handling animals. We also recommend assisting kids in hand washing with soap and water after contact with animals.
We’ve provided some safety tips and recommendations on some of the most common household pets to help parents with young kids:
- Kids should not pet or disturb a dog that is sleeping or eating.
- Baby gates can help keep your dog away from your child when necessary.
- Providing your dog with a crate or safe area can be a very good idea.
- Teach kids how to properly pet the dog’s back and sides, instead of reaching around its head or mouth.
- Consider having your dog spayed or neutered; this can help make it more calm and docile.
- In the event of a dog bite that punctures the skin, antibiotics may be required to prevent a serious infection. Dog bites that pierce the skin should be evaluated by a medical professional.
- Take care of poop scooping yourself to avoid sickness caused by germs and parasites.
- Teach your child that if a cat is flipping its tail back and forth quickly, it’s more likely to scratch or bite.
- Teach your kids how to gently pet a cat and where to pet it (on the back or behind its ears).
- Consider declawing a housecat to avoid potential scratches.
- If your child is scratched or bitten by a cat, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and rinse for at least 30 seconds.
- Don’t let your child handle the litter box to avoid potential germs.
- Teach kids to not to put their hands in the tank, which may contain salmonella or other harmful bacteria.
- Make sure fish food and any chemicals for the tank are kept safely out of a child’s reach.
- Use a lid to protect your child from falling into an open fish tank.
We hope this was helpful. We understand that kids will be kids. This is why parents should ensure that your kids and pets can safely coexist before settling on a new pet for your home. Make sure all your pet’s immunizations are up to date to protect both your pet and your family. If you have any questions about safety for young kids, please contact Children’s Wellness Center today at (404) 303-1314. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information and updates.