Pets & Kids

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Little girl with her puppy dog

The relationship between a child and pet can be a very special bond. 

From cuddling on the couch to running together in the backyard, children and animals are natural companions. But parents must always remember that it takes only one act of aggression from an over-excited dog or cat to potentially injure your child.

More than two million children are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among children, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years old, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.

Highest risk

Among children and adults, the CDC says that having a dog in the household is associated with a higher incidence of dog bites, and as the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the incidence of dog bites.

Also, adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home. Before bringing a dog into your household, the CDC recommends you take the following actions:

* Work with a local animal shelter, rescue organization or reputable breeder to find a pet that will fit well in your household.

* If a child seems frightened by dogs, wait before bringing a dog into your household.

* Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it.

Teaching your child

Once you find that perfect new addition to your family, it is important to teach your children how interact with it. Regardless of the dog’s age or size, you should never leave it alone in a room with infants or young children.

The CDC urges you to teach children not to approach or run from an unfamiliar dog. If approached by one, your child should remain motionless and avoid direct eye contact. Also teach to them never to disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.