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All pets, whether they
are kept indoors or outside, should be in good health, show no evidence of
disease, and be friendly toward children. The following suggestions benefit
your pets and may also help protect young children from both illness and
you have a dog, train and prepare it for contact with children. Many dogs will
try to dominate children because of their small size. Also, some
children aren't well-behaved around animals. These things put children at
risk for injury. To help prevent such problems with dogs and other pets, you can:1
Be especially careful when
bringing a newborn home where a pet has enjoyed "only-child" status. Animals
can become jealous, aggressive, and defensive about trying to protect their
place in the family. Also, newborns don't act, smell, or sound human,
which may confuse pets. The weak, high-pitched cry of newborns may also sound
like prey to animals. Even a very loving, well-behaved pet can quickly
transform into predator mode with a newborn.
Try the following to
prepare your pet for sharing its home with an infant:1
Children will likely encounter pets whether or not they have them in
their own home. Teach your children how to approach animals, and set rules. For example:2, 3
Also, teach children how to react if they are confronted with
an aggressive pet. The following apply specifically to dogs, but some concepts
can apply to other household pets:
This CDC website has advice for preventing infections that can arise from contact with pets (including exotic pets). There are tips for interacting with animals, keeping your pet healthy, and more.
Humane Society of the United States (2010). Introducing your pet and new baby. Available online: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_babies.html.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2012). Safety around animals. Available online: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Safety-Around-Animals.aspx.
Pickering LK, et al. (2008, reaffirmed 2011). Exposure to nontraditional pets at home and to animals in public settings: Risks to children. Pediatrics, 122(4): 876–886.
November 26, 2012
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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