Quite a few families have pets at home. Children like to play with the family’s pet, but without any supervision, can be hurt or even killed by the animal. Parents should observe their children closely when they are playing with the family’s pet and refrain from leaving young children alone with pets.

Cats may scratch children who pull their hair or try to ride them. In addition, the family cat may be carrying a parasite called toxoplasmosis which has been shown to cause harm to unborn babies and can also cause blindness in an otherwise healthy child. So it’s advisable that the family cat not come in direct contact with a child under one year of age. If a kitten is playing with a young child, don’t let the child pet the kitten on its back (where its tail meets its spine) as this is where cats are most likely to carry parasites (toxoplasmosis). The sudden movements of running, tumbling, or falling down can put stress on muscles; especially those around joints like hips and knees. This stress will promote damage to the joints, which later on can cause problems like arthritis. Also, if a child gets scratched by a family cat it is recommended that their wounds be monitored especially if they receive multiple scratches because this could lead to skin infections.

Okay so your kids want to play with the pet…how do you keep them safe?

1) Supervision is key! Kids should not be allowed to interact with pets unsupervised.

2) If feeding or watering the animal make sure the children are occupied doing something else somewhere else in the house while you perform these tasks. Pets can become aggressive when protecting their food and water from little people who probably reach out of place places for new things they see interesting. The same thing goes for bathing a pet, kids should have adult supervision when in the presence of pets.

3) NEVER leave a young child alone with a pet. It doesn’t matter if it’s for five minutes or ten seconds…if you can’t see them then they could get hurt!

4) Teach your children to be gentle with animals and not to pull their tails or fur. This can cause the animal pain and it could attack out of fear of being manhandled so don’t do it! If your family is going away for a weekend ask a neighbor or friend who loves animals to stop by and feed your pet while you’re gone. Please don’t just let him/her out into the backyard where he/she be exposed to other wild animals like coyotes or feral cats.

5) Don’t let your children ride on the family pet like a horse…it could throw them off and cause injury. If an animal is acting up because it’s not well, don’t allow your children to approach it. And when you take your pet in for a checkup ask if there are any special precautions needed around children so everyone can play safe! Make sure you educate yourself about poisonous household plants. You need to protect both kids and pets from these dangerous plants because they’re everywhere! For example, Lilies are very poisonous to cats even when ingested in small amounts, but they can also be fatal. So avoid this at all costs!

6) If you live in an apartment with a balcony or window make sure there are no spaces between the bars where a child could fit its body through. Cats are very agile jumpers, they can climb up screens too! Please don’t let your pet wander around outside unattended especially if it is declawed (removal of claws). This makes them much more vulnerable out there on their own now that they can’t defend themselves.

7) When you’re out walking your dog keep him/her on a leash at all times for both human and animal safety. And remember that kids need to hold onto something when shopping carts go by so the pet doesn’t get stepped on.

And last, but certainly not least…bring them into your home! A new furry family member will keep them busy and loving animals is the best way to teach kids good behavior toward pets. They say that “a pet is just like one of their own” so please introduce your children to all of God’s creatures! If you decide to adopt an animal from a shelter make sure he/she had been looked over by a doctor. Please don’t buy any sort of wild animal as a pet…they are not domesticated for living with humans, they were born in the wild specifically because they are capable hunters who can survive there. This does not mean that someone has abandoned him/her or that he/she had no home before. This is the way they are meant to live out their lives…in the wild!

And lastly, do not leave human food or candy wrappers anywhere your pet can reach them! Diabetics should never feed pets anything with sugar. We all need to be aware of what we eat if our animal friends are partaking in an open buffet at any time. A healthy balanced diet for your family includes lots of fruits and vegetables, too! So don’t feed them fatty foods because one day that health problem will fall into your lap when you least expect it because now it’s happened here too.

Remember that just because a child has been taught how to treat a pet, that doesn’t mean he/she should be allowed to play with one unsupervised. Kids should never be left alone in a room with a pet…no matter how much you trust your child, accidents happen and pets can get injured or even killed during these mishaps if the parents aren’t around.

My final thoughts: It doesn’t matter how often or for how long children interact with family pets. If you’re going to have a family pet then teach your child from infancy to respect them and look both ways before crossing the street together! Accidents do happen but they can be minimized when proper precautions are taken by all involved parties.

Kids should not be left alone in a room with any animal so if your child needs to be attended to by the parent, do not allow him/her access to animals. If your child is acting up and you cannot handle it alone, don’t leave him/her unattended with a pet because it could cause injury or death for your beloved animal friend!