Children definitely have an affinity for animals and everything that comes with them—bring on the hair, dirt, bugs, and grime. But, while pets and kids go hand in hand, certain safety implications should not be taken lightly. Read on for a list of tips on how to keep kids and pets safe without spoiling their fun.
1. Keep it clean!
Kids love to explore, often with their hands and mouths, which can be problematic when it comes to cages or enclosures, pet excrement, and potential parasites.
- Pick up and dispose of pet feces immediately. Teach children the importance of good hygiene. Parasites and their eggs can be passed through the feces of dogs, cats, and other animals, putting kids at risk if ingested.
- Litter boxes are especially enticing to small children, as they are similar to sandboxes. If possible, choose a covered litter box for your feline friend.
- Cages and other enclosures can be breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi if not routinely cleaned and sanitized. But, do not let a small child do the cleaning. Rather, have your child help by creating a schedule or checklist and reminding an adult when cages are due to be cleaned.
- Check both kids and pets daily for ticks or other ectoparasites, which should be properly removed and contained. Then, research and identify them with your child. Check out our post on Lyme disease for more information and instructions on removing ticks from your pets. Consult with a pediatrician if you find any parasites on your child.
2. Don’t touch!
Like our kids, our pets need medications from time to time. Sometimes these medications are topical, which means our kids may be exposed to them. Secure all pet medications, just as you do with the human ones.
- Although topicals and collar-type flea and tick preventives can be used safely, one alternative to using these products is a chewable form. Our veterinary team can help you choose the right product for your pet.
- Minimize your child’s potential exposure to your pet’s topical medications by distracting both pet and child with a romp in the yard or a game of fetch for a few minutes after applying the cream or spray.
3. Heads up!
More often than not, kids and pets will need supervision. Ensure that an adult is overseeing any child-animal interactions, especially in the following scenarios:
- A body of water is nearby — Kids naturally follow their pets, and if Fido is bounding toward the pool or neighborhood pond, chances are his two-legged companion isn’t far behind. Make certain that your family establishes a water safety protocol.
- Very young children are involved — Young children do not understand that when they hit or throw things at others, it hurts. Keep these interactions safe and fun with gentle instruction on how to approach and handle pets. Reward your pet during this process to encourage a positive association with your child.
- Small animals are involved — Toy-breed dogs, such as teacup Chihuahuas, and other tiny animals are fragile and susceptible to serious injuries. Teach your children early on that small animals are delicate. Ask your child for examples of other delicate items around the house, such as flowers or items made of glass, and demonstrate how they should be handled.
For some children, living with pets can cause allergies, often due to dander from the skin or saliva. Unfortunately, no pet is 100% “hypoallergenic,” but allergic reactions in people can be minimized.
- Keep your pet properly bathed and groomed. Make bathing him a fun outdoor activity with the children, weather permitting. Have your child make a grooming schedule with reminders that your pet is due for a bath. Certain medicated shampoos may also lessen the chance of allergies.
The child-animal bond is unique and endearing, and we believe in fostering these special relationships in the safest ways possible. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions regarding child and pet safety.
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