Skip to Content
Home > Health Information > Health Library > Child Safety: Pets
All pets, whether they are kept indoors or outside, should be in good health, show no evidence of disease, and be friendly toward children. The following suggestions benefit your pets and may also help protect young children from both illness and injury:
If you have a dog, train and prepare it for contact with children. Many dogs will try to dominate children because of their small size. Also, some children aren't well-behaved around animals. These things put children at risk for injury. To help prevent such problems with dogs and other pets, you can:footnote 1
Be especially careful when bringing a newborn home where a pet has enjoyed "only-child" status. Animals can become jealous, aggressive, and defensive about trying to protect their place in the family. Also, newborns don't act, smell, or sound human, which may confuse pets. The weak, high-pitched cry of newborns may also sound like prey to animals. Even a very loving, well-behaved pet can quickly transform into predator mode with a newborn.
Try the following to prepare your pet for sharing its home with an infant:footnote 1
Before the baby is born
After the baby is born
Children will likely encounter pets whether or not they have them in their own home. Teach your children how to approach animals, and set rules. For example:footnote 2, footnote 3
Also, teach children how to react if they are confronted with an aggressive pet. The following apply specifically to dogs, but some concepts can apply to other household pets:
Humane Society of the United States (2010). Introducing your pet and new baby. Available online: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_babies.html.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2012). Safety around animals. Available online: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Safety-Around-Animals.aspx.
Pickering LK, et al. (2008, reaffirmed 2011). Exposure to nontraditional pets at home and to animals in public settings: Risks to children. Pediatrics, 122(4): 876–886.
Current as of: December 12, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - PediatricsKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as of:
December 12, 2018
Medical Review:John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
See important information from Billings Clinic on Non-discrimination and Interpreter Services.
Billings Clinic is proud to be an equal opportunity/affirmative action (EOE/AA) e-verify employer.