children and pets

Children and Pets

Children and pets are a great combination, any child that has grown up with a pet will always remember their childhood with fond memories of fun times with their loyal companion. If parents want to bring a pet into their family it is best to seek advice beforehand and prepare their family and house before getting the pet, as it can be a big adjustment and change for both the family and new pet. We welcome all new pet owners to come talk to us in Ark Vetcare before they go to choose their new friend. We have many years’ experience and are happy to go through the basics of choosing a new pet and how to go about it.

Below are a few points to consider before you adopt your new furry friend….

What are the possible risks from pets to child safety and health?

  • Bites (which can be serious) and scratches, children should be aware that their pet can bite and/or scratch, and supervised while with pets especially young children and babies. Children should also understand that playing roughly or pulling at a pet could result in a bite, so they should be taught how to act carefully and responsibly around them.
  • Allergies or asthma triggered by animal fur, saliva, feathers and skin flakes (dandruff), fostering on a short term basis can be useful to see if this is the case, although allergies and asthma can take a while to develop.
  • Zoonotic diseases – diseases that humans can get from animals, or animals can get from humans too.  Although pets can carry germs, it is important to know that you are usually more likely to get some of these germs from infected food or water than from your pet. To reduce the risk we would recommend that you always wash hands after petting your pet, and don’t encourage your pets to lick/kiss faces to limit any risk.
  • The risk of zoonotic diseases is higher for –
    • Young children and elderly people
    • People with a compromised immune system – if any member of your family is immuno-compromised, get advice from your health care provider if you have a pet or if you are thinking of getting a pet
    • Pregnant women – the unborn baby’s immune system is not fully developed, it is advised by Ark Vetcare that certain drugs are not administered whilst pregnant, and we would advise not to clean up a pets faeces.
  • Fall injuries – from being knocked over by a pet or from tripping over a pet, its toys, bowl, litter box.
  • Choking injuries – children swallowing the pet’s food or toys, likewise a pet such as a dog or cat can easily ingest a child’s toy or piece of clothing so if you have a pet that likes to eat inanimate objects you need to be aware of this.

Read our post on Introducing your Dog to a New Baby…..

Maintaining your pet’s health and your families wellbeing

  • Whilst looking after your pets health is very important for the pet it is also important to safeguard your family by having your pet vaccinated and up to date with parasite control. In particular cats & dogs can very easily carry parasites such as worms that can pose a risk to children if not treated.
  • All animals, birds and reptiles kept in the home or garden must be in a clean and healthy condition, reptiles can carry bacteria so always wash hands after handling and it is advisable not to allow young children to clean out vivarium’s/cages etc.
  • If your pet shows any signs of sickness, skin disease, get advice from your vet as soon as possible and follow his/her instructions carefully.
  • Similarly if your pet is showing behavioural problems you must seek advice asap before it escalates. Even as a young pup this can be a problem which can become a dangerous situation if not tackled early on. This is a problem we will hear occasionally and there can be solutions in a lot of cases if the behavioural problem is addressed early on

Enjoying your pet

While there are lots of steps required when choosing a new pet as part of your family we encourage new owners to come and chat with us in the vets or book a visit with a rescue centre and have a list of questions ready to ask before you fully decide if a pet will suit your household.

Remember, while pet ownership gives a sense of responsibility to children, only adults can be truly responsible for pets.