Pets can provide educational experiences for children. However, all pets such as hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, gold fish, cats and dogs can be a source of infections.

Viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites that cause diseases are known as zoonosis. Child care facilities should develop a policy and procedure regarding animals. Keep in mind that having pets in a child care centre is not recommended. If your centre allows pets, follow the outlined precautions below and consider using them in your policy:
  • What animals will be allowed in the facility, if any
  • Under what conditions they will be kept
  • What advance notification will be required for visiting pets
  • Ensure dogs or cats have their rabies vaccination. Confirm this through a written statement from the veterinarian
  • Allow only housebroken animals to enter the facility. Several types of animals cannot be housebroken. These include birds, rodents, reptiles and amphibians. Confine these animals to a cage or aquarium
  • Designate an adult to be responsible for clean up, feeding, etc.
  • Do not allow children to have direct contact with high risk animals
  • Ensure supervised hand washing after animal contact
  • Keep animals, their supplies and their clean-up out of the kitchen
  • Reptiles and birds carry diseases that can be spread to humans. These animals should not be allowed in child care centres
  • If a biting or scratching incident occurs, consult a physician and report the incident to County of Oxford Public Health. Confine the animal and wash the wound
  • Pets should not be allowed in the outdoor play area

Download a sample Child Care Centre Pet Policy

Quick Reference

To report an animal bite to Oxford County Public Health, click here.