If you have a pet, you know how much fun it can be: watching little fish swim in a tank, seeing a dog catch a ball in its mouth, petting the pebbly, cold surface of a lizard's back, or designing a fancy maze for a hamster. Kids who like the outdoors can tell you how exciting it is to spot their favorite birds — and how stinky it can be when they get a sniff of their local skunk.
Animals can be great fun, but it's important to know how to be safe when you're with them. Both indoor animals and outdoor animals need to be treated kindly all the time. This means different things depending on the animal and the situation. With a wild animal, being kind may mean staying far away so the animal doesn't feel threatened and so you stay safe.
Stepping outside can mean a world full of great animals to see — from squirrels in trees to birds in flight. In some parts of the world, kids may see slithery snakes, black bats, or even cool coyotes. And don't forget raccoons, skunks, and other critters that come out in some places at night.
The rule in the great outdoors is simple: Don't touch or go near an animal. Although some of these animals may look cool or even cute, leave them alone. These animals aren't like regular pets. They're not used to being around people and may bite or attack if you come near them. They also might have rabies.
Don't ever try to feed a wild animal. Bird feeders are OK, but other animals, even if they look hungry, shouldn't ever be fed. When it comes to these animals, it's better for everyone if you stay away and check them out at the zoo, on the Internet, on TV nature shows, or in books.
Pets can't tell you if they're upset or scared, so they show you. They might do this by biting or scratching. To avoid bites and scratches:
When you're at a friend's home, the same rules apply — plus one more. Always ask your friend if it's OK to pet or hold his or her pet. If your friend says OK, move slowly and be sure to let the animal sniff your hands first.
Coming home from school and hoping you won't see the dog who always barks like crazy and runs around? You're not the only one. Kids often get scared of a dog they don't know, especially if that dog is loud and doesn't have an owner nearby. To keep your cool around canines (dogs):
A final word on felines (say: FEE-lines), also known as cats: Although most kids aren't as scared of strange cats as they are of strange dogs, it's still a good idea to stay away from cats you don't know. Never pet or touch a strange cat, even if it seems friendly.
Save your love for your own dogs and cats. You know they'll love you back!
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014
|The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) The HSUS educates the public about the humane treatment of all animals, and how to find and care for different kinds of pets.|
|The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) The ASPCA provides education about the humane treatment of animals (including finding and caring for a pet) and pet adoption opportunities nationwide.|
|Why Do I Need to Wash My Hands? Washing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Learn all about the best way to wash your hands in this article for kids.|
|Learning About Allergies During an allergic reaction, your body's immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Farm Safety If you've ever spent time on a farm, you know they're fascinating places. But you need to know your safety rules if you're working on one or just visiting. Find out more.|
|Rabies You may have heard of rabies, but how do animals get it? And, more importantly, how can people and animals avoid it? Find out in this article for kids.|
|Dogs and Preventing Dog Bites Are you a little afraid of dogs? Some kids are, so find out how you can make friends with dogs and avoid dog bites.|
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