Keeping Everyone Safe: Kids and Pets

Keeping Everyone Safe: Kids and Pets

Closeup portrait boy with puppyMost children seem to have a natural affection for pets. For many of us, it’s not uncommon to see kids of all ages wanting to “pet the kitty” or “play with the doggy,” even if they have a pet of their own at home.

But it’s important to remember that children don’t come with an innate understanding of how to handle and interact with pets safely. Even if there has been a pet in the home since birth, as parents (and pet parents), we need to guide children toward understanding that messing with the pretty kitty or funny puppy can have consequences.

Safety Around Pets

Even the most well-mannered dog or cat can be easily spooked by an overly-enthusiastic youngster invading its space, even if the child is family. Because of this, it’s important to teach children how to interact with pets, and that gentleness, compassion, and a certain degree of caution are vitally important when it comes to handling animals.

Here are a few basic safety tips to remember:

  • Never leave young children unsupervised around pets
  • Teach your children to ask both you and the owner before petting a new animal
  • Show your children how to meet new animals by first offering their hand for sniffing, and explain to them why this is important
  • Teach your child to understand the body language of animals
  • Do not allow your child to pull ears or tails, hug too tightly, or play rough with pets
  • Never allow a child to disturb a pet that is sleeping or eating
  • Teach children to never get in an animal’s face, even if it’s a family pet
  • The Warning Signs Before a Bite

    Most animals do not attack without first showing warning signs that signal they are stressed. While not all animals show discomfort in the same way, there are some basic signals you can watch for to know when an animal needs space.

  • Panting that is not related to exercise
  • Pulling away from the child
  • Showing the whites of the eye
  • Pulling the ears back
  • Flicking the tongue or licking the lips
  • Growling
  • Cats will typically leave the room if they are uncomfortable around a child (and are not trapped in the child’s arms). Anytime a cat moves away from a child, you should remind the youngster that the cat is done playing, and should be left alone.

    Birds, reptiles and small animals typically give less warning before biting, so should handled with caution and under close adult supervision.

    The Importance of Sanitation

    Life is full of germs, and pets and kids are no exception. Keep these tips in mind when it comes to keeping your kids (and pets) safe:

  • Always wash hands after interacting with pets, their bedding, food dishes, or litter boxes
  • Keep pet cages, aquariums and terrariums clean and out of the reach of small children
  • If your pet bites or scratches, clean the wound with an antibacterial soap and watch for signs of infection
  • Never allow children to clean litter boxes or feces from the yard without wearing rubber gloves
  • Use baby gates to keep small children away from litter boxes and food dishes
  • Keep your pets up to date on vaccinations and parasite control
  • Children that grow up with pets often benefit socially, emotionally and cognitively. But for these benefits to play out, it is important to make sure that the interactions between pets and kids are positive. By supervising playtime carefully and enforcing proper sanitation, both your kids and your pets can thrive for years to come.

    If you have any other questions about safety when it comes to kids and pets, or if you need to bring your pet current on his or her vaccinations and parasite preventatives, please give us a call.

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    Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!