When selecting a pet, keep your child's developmental stage in mind. If this is going to be his pet - and therefore he agrees to care for it - pick an animal whose needs can be met by your child. Some pets - like dogs or cats - require attention on a daily basis. Others - like turtles, birds, goldfish, guinea pigs and hamsters - demand minimal care and may be a good option for a younger child.
Almost every type of pet is a potential source of disease that can infect your child. However, as long as your child practices reasonable hygiene, especially hand-washing after playing with a pet and before eating, they should be safe.
Before bringing the pet home, discuss with your child the needs of the animal and everything that is involved in caring for it. Books on pet care from the library or the pet store can help him understand what is expected of him. So can a visit to a friend who has a pet.
DO's AND DON’T's
· Buy pets only from reputable breeders and shelters.
· Do pick a pet that fits your home. Bring a big dog into your house only if you can give him a lot of space and long walks.
· Don't buy a shaggy dog if you're allergic. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog since all dogs produce dander, but some have less than others.
· Generally, if your child has allergies (eczema, hay fever, asthma) or your family has a strong history of allergic disorders, bringing a pet into the house may not be a good idea .The dander (shed skin cells, hairs and feathers) of some animals can evoke allergic symptoms in certain children.
· Do pick a mild-mannered puppy. Consult a vet about sweet-tempered dogs that are likely to be more forgiving of -- and protective of -- their little owners.
· Do watch out for tiny dogs. Small children and small dogs don't always mix. Breeds like Chihuahuas are very delicate and can easily be injured if your child is rough with them. Dalmatians don't mix as well with kids (don't be fooled by the movie -- they're excitable and not a great match)
· Don't forget to take your pet to the veterinarian for a complete checkup.
· Don't assume that you can skip normal safety precautions just because your pet is a breed that has a reputation for being "good with kids".
· Don't have your pet around when company visits. Other people can overexcite the pet.
· Don't allow pet and baby to sleep in the same room unattended.
· Don't allow your pet on the couch while you are holding baby. This makes dogs bigger and taller in relation to your infant and may encourage aggression.
· Don't try to force a relationship between your pet and your child
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