I sometimes catch my one-year-old gnawing on our dog’s chew toys. I’ve heard pets are good for babies, but can they pass on illnesses too?
It’s true that dogs and cats can be a healthy addition to your family by decreasing the risk of allergies and asthma, in addition to providing unconditional love to your kids. But dogs have plenty of bacteria in their mouths that you don’t want in your mouth or on your face. Certain bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella, and parasites like ringworm, can be easily transmitted from your animal to you or your child.
Dogs and cats lick themselves all over, getting bacteria in their mouths from their under areas. To keep your child safe from these illnesses, don’t allow your pet to lick your child on the face or mouth, and wash your hands after cuddling. Try to keep your dog’s toys from entering the mouths of your kids, too. If they do put a toy in their mouth, encourage them to rinse their mouth and use it as a teaching point to avoid doing it again.
Because cats can pass on cat-scratch disease, watch for swollen lymph nodes, fever and headaches in your child if ever they are bitten or scratched by a cat, and take them to the doctor if you notice signs. You should also keep litter boxes out of reach to prevent kids from contracting parasites.