If we had to name two things children want, it could be easily covered under the titles, pets and toys. We all loved toys as children and still love our pets even as adults. Pets play an important role in their owners’ lives. Some pets have even been known to save lives and learn to dial 911 in an emergency. As companions, they provide us with warmth and friendship, as well as undying loyalty. Some pets have special training and can assist people with disabilities. Others are great hunters and protectors of our property and our families.

For a child, a pet means even more. For children, a pet represents many things. They learn about relationships, compassion, responsibility, love, and so much more. It is not impossible to raise a child without a pet, but their lives are greatly enhanced if they are allowed to have one.

No one can downplay the significance of owning a pet. The benefits far outweigh the pitfalls. However we have to know how to be safe when choosing a pet – especially when we have children. Not only do we have to choose the right pet for our family, we also must keep our pets in good health to protect others in our household. And, keeping a pet healthy can be expensive. Certain types of pets require more care than others and you should always consider whether or not you can afford not only the purchase of your pet, but also the ongoing care they will require.

However, your concern for your child’s health is directly related to your concern for their pet’s health. There are diseases that a child or even an adult can contract from pets. Keeping your pet healthy is very important to your child’s health.

Zoonotic diseases or Zoonosis are terms used to describe diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans. Normal contact with an animal or contact with an animal’s bodily fluids can result in the transfer of disease.

I don’t want to scare parents away from getting a pet for their child because as I said, the benefits of owning a pet far outweigh the dangers and drawbacks if you take the necessary precautions. Here are 10 tips you should follow when choosing a pet for your child.

1. Do not buy a pet from disreputable dealers who keep large numbers of animals caged together waiting to be sold.

2. Always check the facilities where the animal was kept while waiting to be sold. If the conditions there are bad, then likely the condition and the care of the animal prior to sale was likely bad also.

3. Find out what care has been provided to the animals, by a licensed Veterinarian, prior to being sold.

4. Read whatever tips you can find about the type of pet you are purchasing for your child. You should know any diseases that type of pet is known to be susceptible to. You should know all about the proper shelter, food, and care your child’s pet will require. Reading up on this prior to purchase is a good idea, so you will know what you are getting into.

5. Clean your pet’s shelter and make sure all feces are removed daily.

6. Make sure you have a qualified Veterinarian examine the pet before you hand it over to your child.

7. Bathe your child’s pet regularly. Keep in mind your child will be in constant contact with their pet. Whatever the pet gets into, your child gets into.

8. Make sure your children get into the habit of washing their hands every time they handle their pet.

9. Stay current with all vaccinations and checkups your Veterinarian recommends. If your pet seems ill, keep your child away from them until you can get them to a Veterinarian.

10. Teach your child how to handle your pet to avoid having it injure your child. Make sure they know not to squeeze it too tightly, pull on its extremities, agitate it, or tease it unnecessarily.

These 10 tips I am providing you are by no means all the things you need to be aware of. Specific types of pets have different rules you need to be aware of about handling and caring for them. You should include your child in the learning process where possible so they understand why those rules are necessary. Read up on the pet you are bringing into your home and spend time discussing your questions and concerns with your veterinarian.

I hope this article has been helpful to you as a parent. Remember, know what you are getting into before you choose a pet for your child. What you don’t know could cost you in more ways than one.