There’s no doubt about it: Americans love their furry friends. Over 40 million households in the U.S. own a cat and nearly 55 million own a dog, according to the American Pet Products Association. These loyal companions bring families lots of happiness over the years. But as with any relationship, it’s important to get it off to a good start. When introducing a new critter into your home, you need to be aware of a few things to help make sure your kids — and your pets — stay safe.
Amid the excitement of bringing home a new cat or dog, consider these tips to help keep everyone safe and comfortable — kids and animals included.
Make sure everyone uses an “indoor voice” and approaches the cat or dog calmly — avoiding any sudden moves. Reach out a hand, palm upward, for the pet to sniff.
If your pet is eating, make sure your kids keep a safe distance. Many dogs guard their food and get very protective around their bowls. Leave your pet alone while it’s eating or even feed it in a separate room to keep everyone safe.
Remind little ones that although the cat’s litter box may look like a sandbox, it’s not. Pet waste can carry bacteria and parasites that may be transferred to humans. Wear plastic gloves or cover your hands in plastic bags to clean up after pets — and make sure everyone washes their hands after.
You may want to consider a covered litter box. This could help keep curious toddlers from touching the litter — and offer your cat a little extra privacy, to boot.
Adults should always supervise young children with their pets, especially when the relationship is new. Hold small hands in your own and show children how to respectfully play with their new friend.
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