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Pets and Children
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Children need to be trained to respect pets since pets may __________ if mistreated or frightened.
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Hi I'm Kathy Moore for About.com Parenting.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always had pets in my home. In fact, Spot here has been my companion even longer than my husband. According to a recent survey, there is a pet in six out of every ten American households. But when you have pets and children in the same house there are some simple steps you can take to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Teach Children to Handle Pets

Train children to respect your pets. Kids do sometimes get bitten if a pet is mistreated or frightened but incidents like this are rare in homes were the animals are well cared-for and respected.

Encourage Hand Washing

Teach the children to wash their hands after petting or playing with your pets. Furry animals can harbor fungus spores in their coats. A child petting the animal can transfer these spores to his mouth eventually causing illness. This is another good reason to insist that children wash their hands before eating.

Manage Pet Waste

Clean up animal poop in your yard. Infected pets can spread roundworms to children through feces.

Maintain Litter Box Cleanliness

Young children are apt to put just about anything in their mouths, and cat feces may contain harmful organisms that can be transmitted to humans so if you have a cat, keep the litter box in a place that the kids can't get to. Empty the litter box every day. If you are pregnant, have someone else do this job, as there is a risk of developing Toxoplasmosis from contact with cat feces, which can result in birth defects. Keep cats away from the kids' sand box so it doesn't become a secondary litter box.

Schedule Routine Checkups

Keep your pets healthy and schedule regular checkups at the Vet. It is a good idea to maintain a record of current shots and vaccinations.

Monitor Pets and Ticks

We live in tick country and deer ticks are a special concern for us and our pets because they can carry Lyme disease and Erichliosis. Talk to your vet about the steps you can take to help your pets avoid tick related problems.

Keeping pets is such a rewarding experience and we enjoy the extra benefit from the exercise our whole family gets by taking Spot on a daily walk.

Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the Web at parenting.about.com.
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