Children love pets! Whether it’s a small furry hamster, an aquarium of goldfish or a friendly, family dog, kids are instantly drawn to almost any animal. And while these relationships to family pets can be positive and rewarding, they can also lead to safety and health issues as well. It’s important to have rules and guidelines in place for a child when there is a pet or animal in the home.
Even though most pets and animals are friendly, some can be dangerous. Each year there are reports from across the country of small children being bitten by a variety of animals. Most of these children are young, between the ages of 5 and 9. Biting tends to occur when a child has overstepped a boundary with the animal…when the child is teasing or hurting the animal often unintentionally.
It’s very important to have an animal bite or scratch looked at right away by a medical professional. The wound can become infected easily, causing more serious health issues. This is especially true when the bite or scratch comes from an undomesticated or wild animal. A doctor should examine these bites as soon as possible.
To ensure that you and your children are enjoying family pets and animals in a safe and healthy manner, here are some rules to follow:
Be sure to always wash your hands after playing with or handling a pet. This includes everything from playing fetch with a dog to holding an iguana.
Do not leave very small children alone with animals. Even if it’s a pet that you’ve trusted for years, it’s better to be cautious and stay with your child.
Avoid pulling the ears or tails of animals. Also, don’t pinch or squeeze pets too hard. This might lead to a reflex reaction, including a bite or scratch.
Try to leave your pet alone while it is eating or sleeping. Some animals will snap their teeth when they feel that someone is intruding on their food.
Be sure to keep your distance from pets that have babies. Animals are very protective of their young. If your cat or dog feels that you are in anyway threatening their babies, they may react by biting or scratching.
Stay away from pets that look sick or injured. Even pets that love to be petted will sometimes get annoyed when they are sick.
If the pet doesn’t belong to you, always ask the owner before you attempt to pet or handle the animal. Some animals aren’t friendly with strangers.
Don’t go near stray animals in your neighborhood. You might see a stray cat or dog that looks friendly from afar, but may actually be very sick.
If your child is bitten or scratched by any animal, bring them in to AllKids Urgent Care to have the injury looked at. It may not be that serious, but it’s better to have it checked out than to let it become infected. We’ll be able to let you know if any medication or special treatment is required.
Have fun with your pets, but remember to treat them kindly to avoid any unnecessary injury.