When you have a young family with pets, the way you choose to raise your children alongside their animal companions will shape the relationships they have with animals for the rest of their lives.
To keep your kids’ experiences with pets safe and happy, you need to teach your kids responsible handling of pet waste. Dog and cat waste lends itself to the transfer of innumerable diseases and bacteria, so it’s important that good habits are impressed upon your children when you are young.
So here are 5 ways to keep your kids safe from pet waste and teach them proper best practices!
Use Eco-Friendly Litter
Did you know that most popular mass market cat litters contain dangerous compounds that are dangerous to humans when ingested or inhaled? At first glance, this might not seem urgent. After all, if you chaperone your kids closely, there is little chance they will get a chance to ingest cat litter, right?
Most popular cat litters contain silica dust and a type of clay, both of which are dangerous to cats. Silica dust is linked to upper respiratory problems in both humans and cats. It is easily kicked up and made easily inhalable by people in the vicinity.
Sodium bentonite clay is used in cat litter to clump the litter and make it easier to scoop. The clay soaks up urine and clumps together, rather than having a bunch of wet loose litter to deal with. The problem comes when cats inadvertently ingest the litter.
Use a Secure Pet Waste Station
There are many pests, bacteria, and viral infections your children can pick up from children if they come into contact with pet waste. Some are mild, like tick bites or ringworm, that you might expect children to contract when playing outside otherwise
Toxoplasmosis and worms are just two of the more serious conditions your kids might contract from your pet’s waste.
The best way to keep your kids safe is by chaperoning them at all times, but that is unrealistic. However, the second best way is to use a pet waste method that your children can’t access. Use a dog poop trash can that your kids cannot reach or breach without parental intervention.
Similarly, if you have a cat, block off your cat’s litter box so that only cats can access it. Even if its safe from your children, you should also take care that your other pets cannot access it. If your dog gets into your cat’s litter box and then licks your child, there is a chance that both your dog and child are at risk of disease transfer.
Teach Your Kids Good Habits
If you want to set your children up for a lifetime of positive, safe experiences with pets and animal companions, you need to give them the tools to do so when they are very young.
You need to educate them about the dangers of approaching strange animals, handling animal waste, and safety when introducing animals to one another. Dogs, cats, and other small animals each have their own unique quirks that need to be respected—just like they should be in humans!
Keep Up to Date on Vaccines and Preventatives
Part of keeping your children safe involves keeping your pets safe, too. When you first adopt an animal, you and your vet should set up a vaccination schedule and a plan to keep your pets flea-free that you can sustain in the long term.
If you keep your pets safe from serious diseases and pests, you are also keeping it out of your home and away from your kids. Win-win!
However, one thing to consider when choosing a flea treatment for your pets is, ironically, the age of your children. For example, very young children may have a hard time restraining themselves from touching pets, so in lieu of topical treatments for your pet you might want to opt for an oral flea and tick preventative.
Even if you are not noticing asthmatic or allergic symptoms in your family members, you can still benefit from giving your home a good once-over with the vacuum on a regular basis.
Unless all of your dogs and cats are hairless (or just hypoallergenic!), your pets will shed some hair and dander that accumulates in your fabrics, in your home’s corners, and floats in the air you breathe.
Over time, this can exacerbate other health problems or even lead to respiratory irritation that did not exist before.
If you have bought a house or moved into an apartment recently, it might be worth getting the carpet professionally cleaned to really clear out any accumulation of waste or dander.