No exotic pets for kids under 5, say docs

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Babies, Pets

hamsterThinking of adding to your family zoo? If your kids are under 5, you might want to read this. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently sent out a warning to parents that certain pets and young children don't mix, especially exotic pets like hedgehogs, baby chicks, hamsters, lizards, and turtles.

The doctor's group is concerned because young children have undeveloped immune systems and many animals carry germs. In fact, they say, 11% of all salmonella cases involving young children are thought to stem from exposure to certain types of pets and other animals. And even when germs aren't a concern, biting is.

The best thing you can do as a parent and a pet owner is to do your research. Rather than caving in to a child's pleas or an animal's cuteness, make pet ownership a family decision that involves learning all about an animal before acquiring it. That way, you'll be sure to choose an animal that's appropriate for every member of the family, even the smallest.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.