Public Health Corner: Pet safety for children

Does your family have a pet? Have you considered some of the safety concerns with adopting or encountering an animal?

Dogs are the most common household pet. They can provide stress relief, increased activity, and companionship for people. However, bites can occur when a situation is lacking safety.

Some household safety tips may include:

• Always supervise your infant or child with the dog.

• Do not allow an infant or child to sit on the dog or pull ears or tail.

• Give the dog space while feeding.

• Keep your dog up to date on vaccinations and wellness exams.

Other safety tips for encountering new dogs:

• Always ask the owner if it is okay to approach or pet the dog. And, do not force your child to interact if they are afraid of the dog.

• Allow the dog to sniff your hand before petting.

• Do not make quick movements or loud noises.

• Washing your hands after contact.

If a dog bite occurs, clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water then watch for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, or a fever. Seek medical attention if necessary. All dog bites should be reported to your local animal control agency. It is important to obtain information on whether the dog had a rabies vaccine or not. Collect the vaccination license number, the veterinarian clinic contact information, as well as the owner’s contact information if at all possible.

In addition to dogs, families have cats, hamsters, rabbits, snakes, etc as pets in their home. Always supervise your child’s interaction with pets of all breeds. Keep all animals fully vaccinated, in a clean living environment, and washing your hands is important for the safety of children and adults alike.

A closing note –“keep wildlife wild,” by avoiding those that appear abandoned or injured. Please contact local law enforcement or DNR officers to notify them of the injured animal. Raccoons, squirrels, and other wildlife are not safe to bring home as pets.

To learn more about pet safety, please visit www.cdc.gov or www.healthychildren.org

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