All pets, whether they are kept indoors or outside, should be in good health, show no signs of disease, and be friendly toward children. These tips can help protect both your pet and your child from getting sick or hurt.
Dispose of all pet waste immediately. Keep litter boxes away from children.
It can reduce aggressive behavior.
If 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. You can do these things to help prevent such problems with dogs and other pets.footnote 1
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.footnote 1
This will help prevent an abrupt change in the amount of attention your pet receives.
Watch the pet and baby at all times.
Also turn on items such as baby monitors and swings periodically to get your pet used to new sounds.
Have your pet sniff and check out the item before he or she is in the room with your baby.
Give the animal treats to develop positive associations with the baby.
This only causes anxiety and increases the chance of injury.
It only takes a moment for a pet to misbehave and cause a serious injury.
When you play with your baby on the floor, place your baby on a clean blanket or mat to help keep dust, carpet fibers, fur, and dander away.
Keep them away from your kitchen or other food-preparation areas. And don't allow your child younger than 5 to be around these animals at all. This can help prevent infection, injury, and allergic reactions.
The following apply specifically to dogs, but some concepts can apply to other household pets:
- 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.
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