Keep your child safe around animals

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Did you know that young children are more likely to get a serious illness from germs that animals can carry? This is because their immune systems are still developing. But this doesn’t mean your child can’t interact with animals safely. You can take steps to keep your kids healthy while enjoying the benefits of being around animals.

Supervise kids around animals

A mom petting a dog with her son
  • Always supervise children around animals, even trusted pets.
  • Never allow children to kiss animals or to put their hands or other objects into their mouths after handling animals.
  • Don’t let children sit or play on the ground in animal areas.
  • Don’t allow children younger than 5 years old to touch certain animals that are more likely to make them sick, like reptiles, amphibians, poultry, and rodents.

Make sure kids wash their hands

A person washing their hands in a sink
  • Children should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for animals or cleaning their habitats.
  • Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.

Other tips

  • Teach your child how to handle animals without scaring or hurting them (no play-fighting!).
  • Always make sure kids follow the rules at petting zoos, fairs, and other places they may interact with animals.
  • If your child’s classroom has a pet, talk to their teacher about allergies, asthma, or illnesses your child has.