Watching the bond develop between a child and the family pet is priceless. The kids and pets are having a blast, and the adults around them have the chance to relive their own experiences of youthful friendships with an animal.

The natural inclination most kids have towards animals can be the perfect breeding ground for disaster, however, as kids and pets can easily injure one another. To keep everyone safe, special care should be taken to teach children the correct ways to interact with an animal. With these tips from your Carriage Hills Animal Hospital family, you can better ensure a safe, happy, and healthy environment for this special relationship to grow.

Kids And Pets – The Basics

Living with a pet can have a profound impact on a child and can promote empathy, compassion, self-esteem, and a sense of responsibility. Having a solid understanding of a pet’s needs and wants, as well as how to respectfully treat and handle them, can pave the way for a lifetime of rewarding experiences with furry friends.

Make sure kids know the basics when it comes to safe interactions with family pets and pets belonging to others.

  • Don’t approach or startle a pet that is eating, sleeping, chewing on a toy, or caring for young.
  • Always ask permission before approaching an unfamiliar pet, even if the pet seems friendly. If the owner says it’s ok, extend a hand, palm up, toward the animal’s nose for sniffing. Never reach out suddenly to touch the nose, face, or ears.
  • Make sure kids understand the concept of “gentle touches” when it comes to petting or playing with pets. There should be no ear or tail pulling, jumping or laying on a pet, or any other roughhousing that could result in an injury to the child or the pet.
  • Service dogs should never be approached while on duty, as this type of distraction may compromise their ability to help their handler.
  • Be aware that a red bandana or leash/collar on a dog may be a signal that the dog is aggressive or reactive and shouldn’t be approached by anyone.
  • Stay away from animal feces, as contact could expose children to disease or parasites.

Understanding Body Language

Pets communicate mainly through body language, and learning to interpret their moods is key to avoiding a dangerous encounter.

  • Teach children to never approach a dog that’s growling, has teeth bared, ears flattened, or fur standing on end – a bite is often the next step.
  • Kids should know not to corner a cat, or to approach one that is hissing, has its ears flattened, or tail lashing back and forth, as this indicates the cat is about to lash out.
  • Oftentimes pets will move away when they are done interacting. Make sure kids know that when the pet leaves, that means they’ve had enough and to let them be.

Safe interactions between kids and pets also include making sure your pet stays healthy through regular wellness exams and routine vaccinations and parasite prevention. If you have any further questions, or would like to schedule an appointment for your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us.