kids' paw-some playmates

Children and pets seem to go hand in paw, but some pet parents worry that having pets around children may be unhygienic. In general, it shouldn’t be a cause for serious concern — in fact, studies have shown that children raised with dogs and cats have lower incidences of allergies and respiratory illnesses — but it’s still a good idea to set a few guidelines for playtime, for sanitation (and safety’s) sake:

keep bacteria at bay
Teach children good hand-washing methods, and make sure they scrub up after handling furry friends. Likewise, grab a facecloth if they’ve gotten doggy kisses! When playing outside, keep curious kids out of your pet’s “potty zone,” and diligently pick up after pets.

what’s mine isn’t yours
Don’t let kids play with the pet’s toys, and vice versa. Very young children tend to put everything they touch into their mouths – a sanitation no-no. Drawing clear boundaries of what is whose will also help avoid toy related aggression issues. Designate a basket or bin for each set of toys, and make a game of putting playthings in the proper place.

when the going gets rough
Enforce “time-outs” for kids and pets if playtime gets out of hand. Over-excitement is more likely to lead to accidental bites or overzealous roughhousing. Establish a safe spot, such as a crate or bed, that your pet can retreat to if he’s overwhelmed, and teach kids to respect his quiet time.

an ounce of prevention
Keep pets current on preventatives and parasite control. Fleas, ticks and other unwelcome guests may enter the house on unprotected pets, and can quickly affect human housemates. By following these simple guidelines and keeping an eye on your frolicking friends, you can ensure that everyone in the family stays healthy and happy.